[Digital Single] U-KISS – AMAZING

AMAZING is the seventh digital single released by U-KISS. It was used as a teaser for their sixth mini-album.

Released: April 20, 2012

AMAZING continues U-KISS’ electronic sound, which is probably why it sounds so similar to their past songs. The biggest change though is the fact the song sounds much more lighthearted than some of their past works like Neverland. It’s really a good song though. It’s catchy melody, has a fantastic beat and makes you want to dance. There are times when the song really shines though such as the rapping and pre-chorus. At the same time, it could do without certain parts such as the repetitive hook in the second half of the chorus.

Overall: One of their stronger electronic offerings, which borrows characteristics from their past songs. Not fantastic, but a fun listen.


[Digital Single] U-KISS – Forever (For KISS Me)

Forever (For KISS Me) is the fifth digital single released by U-KISS.

Released: December 22, 2012
1. Forever (For KISS Me) (평생)
2. Forever (For KISS Me) (Inst)

Forever (For KISS Me) was specially made for their fanbase, so I was expecting something a bit…sappy. I liked that the song was an uptempo Christmas-themed song though and I really like the arrangement. With that said, the song really sounds like those Christmas songs that the K-Pop companies tend to release every year. It especially reminds me of something that would have been released by SMTown around 2006-2007.

Overall: The song is better than I expected as it is a fun uptempo pop tune, but it just sounds like a ton of other songs I know. I really can’t tell the difference.


[Digital Single] U-KISS – SOMEDAY

SOMEDAY is the third digital single released by U-KISS. It features a new version of a song from their second album.

Released: October 21, 2011
1. SOMEDAY (New Ver.)

SOMEDAY was one of my favourite songs off their second album, so it’s great to see the pop ballad get a little more action. But really there isn’t much difference between this version and the one on the album. The music is pretty much the same and the only differences are focused around the vocals. Here we have a (very slight) change in vocal distribution and an odd use of distortion. The vocals are reverbed, I guess to make it sound more ethereal, but it really cuts out of the emotion from the song and makes it lose some power in important areas such as the chorus opening.

Overall: Disappointed it wasn’t changed enough for me to feel it warrants the “new version” tag and the changes that were done were a little weird. Still a great ballad though, which is the only reason it gets a +.


[Album] U-KISS – Neverland

Neverland is the second album full-length album released by U-KISS. The title track was used as the promotional song and SOMEDAY was also promoted live.

Released: September 1, 2011
1. Intro
2. Neverland [MV]
3. Baby Don’t Cry
5. Take Me Away
6. On The Floor
7. Friend’s Love (친구의 사랑)
8. April Story (4월 이야기)
9. Obsession
11. Tell Me Y
12. Hope to See You Again (다시 만나요)
13. SOMEDAY (inst.)

The Intro on this album is quite intriguing. It starts with a heavy drum beat before bringing in some futuristic sounding synths and some of Kevin’s singing parts on the title track. It’s a great way to start the album and really surprised me.

The title track, Neverland, is a bit different than the intro as while it features a heavy beat and futuristic sound, it lacks the freaky synths and is reminiscent of their past dance songs like Am I That Easy?, Round and Round and Shut Up. While it’s a bit disappointing that despite saying they were changing their sound and decided to revert to something similar to the past especially after the more pop / R&B oriented 0330, it is safe to say this song is on another level which makes up for that. Unlike their last few dance title tracks, it’s so much cleaner in production and is probably their most refined promotional song since Am I That Easy?. While I did find parts of the rap to be a bit out of place and the second half  of the chorus was pretty much a collage of Eh’s, everything was pieced together quite well and came out hard hitting in both the melody and the musical arrangement.

Baby Don’t Cry starts with explosive opener and continues the general sound of the previous song but with a slight R&B influence to it. I don’t really enjoy the chorus as much as I thought I would mostly because of the excessive autotune layered over the vocals, but there is something modern and slick about its execution. Not to mention, the verses are gorgeous. Actually, there is just something about the whole song that is really gorgeous.

SOMEDAY really slows things down and gives us the first ballad. Despite potentially being a total bore fest as many idol ballads are, this song is saved by the beautiful pre-chorus and chorus. The melody mixed with the heavy beats and flash of synths really brings the chorus up a step in comparison to the emptier verses. It was also a nice change to hear everyone sing and no rap to break the song up.

When Take Me Away first opens, I was dreading a dull ballad, but there is something about there is a gentle quality about this one that makes it even better than the last. Compared to the last few songs that featured pretty heavy arrangements, this one only features the piano and it helps to showcase the great melody and vocals. Not to mention it features quite a bit of harmonizing, which is always a great touch.

On The Floor is the return to the fast paced world and up to this point is the weakest song. It’s a little more on the generic side with its heavy club beats and repetition and while this can make for a good formula there is something missing. It’s by no means a bad song, but especially compared to the last few great tracks, this one just falls to the back.

Friend’s Love brings a weird transition because we are brought right back to a ballad. The song is quite nice with its R&B beat and the overall more uplifting atmosphere makes the song come off more like an OST track. Actually it reminds me of something DBSK would do on their first two albums with the chorus’ sung in unison.

April Story is a duet between Soohyun and Brave Girls’ lead vocalist Eun Young. The song itself is quite nice and reminds me of something from the mid-00s although it’s nothing that particularly stands out. The vocals definitely make the song though as both are quite strong vocalists and their vocals complement each other quite well.

Obsession is another break from the slower tempo songs and it features only Kiseop and AJ. Firstly, I think it’s great that there is a song that finally puts Kiseop into the forefront because he usual has minimal parts in most of their other songs. Secondly, the song isn’t bad although it’s a bit too repetitive at times and parts of the chorus came off as a bit messy. It reminds me of those ballad oriented dance songs as there are some breaks with a piano line and it would’ve been nice if this was seen a bit more.

The thing with TOP THAT that I enjoy most is that it while it’s an upbeat song, it features a stronger hip-hop influence to it. With that said, it sticks out like a sore thumb on the album and pretty much ruins any cohesion the album might have. The song isn’t bad but a bit too aggressive for my tastes and sometimes just comes off as messy and doesn’t really fit the groups’ vocals.

Tell Me Y features a heavy beat but brings a more midtempo track. It only includes the rappers Eli and Dongho as well as another singer SWIN (P.O of Paran). It’s a pretty nice song and has a more relaxed quality to it despite being dominated by rapping. I actually find the transitions to this song quite well done and they don’t seem as oddly contrasting as I was first imagining.

The last song on the album, Hope to See You Again, features two Paran members, Ace and P.O. The song has a really long opening that is full of just talking, which is sort of annoying. With that said, when the song itself starts up, it’s is pretty relaxing. The song builds up by the end, but the whole thing is quite beautiful with its fast-paced melody and emphasis on vocals. There are some great notes here and there and the two Paran members really have great voices that add to the song.

Overall: U-KISS’ second album was a major improvement over their first. While I did find the first half of the album stronger than the second half, there were good songs throughout. My only problem was mostly with the dance tracks that were a bit out of place with their placement and were the weaker tracks on the album (except the title track). It also would’ve been nice to hear some more songs that could act as transitions between the heavy dance songs and the more straightforward ballads such as Baby Don’t Cry or Tell Me Y. With that said, it’s an overall strong album and features quite a few songs that shine in U-KISS’ discography and even compared to other K-Pop idol songs as a whole like Take Me Away. I was pleasantly surprised.


[Mini-Album] U-KISS – Bran New Kiss

Bran New Kiss is the fifth mini-album released by U-KISS. It is the first release to include members AJ and Hoon. 0330 was used as the promotional single.

Released: March 30, 2011
1. It’s Time (Intro)
2. 0330 [MV]
3. The Words That Hurt Me… (내게 아픈 말은…)
4. Every Day
5. I Don’t Understand
6. Miracle

Despite the change in members, the mini opens up with the expected U-KISS intro. It’s Time (Intro) is rather interesting because it has a more futuristic style going on with the odd beats and sweeping synths. I’m not a big fan of it, but it certainly does capture my attention.

After that we are flown right into the title track, 0330, which is a midtempo pop song with a slight R&B tinge to it. This song really reminds me of that graduation song by Vitamin C for some reason, maybe because the arrangement is similar in terms of the usage of strings. Anyways, I think this their best title track since Man Man Ha Ni and certainly one of their strongest songs in their discography. It’s just so well put together. It’s simple and features a nice switching between singing and rapping pieces but does so in a way that doesn’t really interrupt the flow of the song. The vocals are also well done and Hoon pulls in his weight here.

The Words That Hurt Me starts off with some funky piano line, but it swings into a full on pop song with a heavy beat. What I like about this song is that it starts off sounding like the everyday K-Pop boy band song but the melody as a certain edge to it that is both catchy and unpredictable. I just wish the lines weren’t just dominated by Kevin though. Definitely one of their best songs.

Every Day is the type of song I would expect from U-KISS with it’s more prominent dance elements. With that said, it’s a bit lighter than some of their past stuff. It features a heavy beat and the typical flashes of synths in the background with the more aggressive and repetitive vocal arrangement but just doesn’t come off as clean as the first two songs. With that said, the middle 8 is really really nicely done and gives the song a nice break.

I Don’t Understand feels like a mix of the last two songs in the sense that it features dance elements but in a lighter setting. It’s a bit forgettable for me as while it is pretty catchy I think sounds rushed at times and the heavy beats are a bit too much. I do enjoy the use of synths in the chorus though as it gave it a slight J-Pop sound to it.

Miracle continues the light dance / pop sound but with a more ethereal atmosphere. The odd sounding piano line throughout the song mixed with the heavy beats, autotune and fast paced melody is an interesting combination but it surprisingly works out here. I like that the song has a nice distribution in terms of parts so all the members get something.

Overall: Bran New Kiss was really new and has a much lighter feel to it that wasn’t really heard since their first two minis. In this mini they were able to capture that feeling while continuing the dance / pop they had been consistently releasing for the last while to make a quite the mini. While I did enjoy some songs more than others (especially the first two), I think every thing was well put together and was much cleaner than their last mini but wasn’t as empty in delivery as their album.


[Mini-Album] U-KISS – BREAK TIME

BREAK TIME is the fourth mini-album released by U-KISS. It’s also the last Korean release to feature members Alexander and Kibum. Shut Up!! was used as the promotional song.

Released: October 8, 2010
1. Before Yesterday (Intro)
2. Shut Up!! [MV]
3. Light it up
4. Rock ya’ body
5. Avatar
6. Shut Up!! (Inst.)
7. Light it up (Inst.)

Another mini another intro. Before Yesterday (Intro) is quite stunning with it’s use of piano and the layering on the vocals. It sucks that U-KISS’s intros sound so nice as it makes me really want them to make full songs out of them.

It’s weird to think though that this goes right into Shut Up!!, a song which pretty much continues the electronic dance sound they’ve been going for since the last two releases. Like their last few promoti0nal tracks, this one has a heavy dose of autotune but it differs in some areas. Its beat is significantly lighter and the chorus is far more toned down. It also has some weird slicing synths in there as well as a pretty odd fart-like beat. In general I think it has more life to it than Round & Round, but it comes off as a bit messy at times and I’m not really a fan of the rap in this song. It just lacks the punch. I’m more on the fence with this song and don’t know whether I like it or not.

Light it up is a bit more consistent though. It’s another electronic dance song, but has a really gorgeous repeating synth going throughout and the beat is more of a clap-beat which is better than the farting going on. It is a stronger song than the last one, but there’s just something about the opening part of the chorus that sounds a little off. With that said, the verses are great as the vocals sound really nice even if they are autotuned quite a bit.

Rock ya’ body brings something new to the table with a dance song with some dancehall punch to it. While it’s not what I expect from U-KISS, it’s a breath of fresh air after the numerous electronic dance songs and it adds some punch to this mini with its heavy beat. The vocal arrangement is ok, but I wish they didn’t autotune the vocals so heavily here.

Avatar, like the last song, is a dance tune but with a different edge to it. This time we have U-KISS with a bit of urban flair. While I think the song is just a big mess, it’s fun and the rap is really nicely done. The chorus is really catchy and the overall atmosphere is a great combination of the mini’s sound with a party influence. My only problem is the vocals. They are so autotuned that I really can’t tell who is who here.

Overall: U-KISS comes back strong with BREAK TIME. I was worried this mini would be like their first album and full of electronic pop songs, but it’s nice to see some more variety here. While I feel each song here seems pretty messy besides Light it up (and the intro), they are all solid listens. It’s also good to see the rest of the mini being better than the promotional song.


[Digital Single] U-KISS – What

What is the first digital single released by U-KISS. The song originally appeared on their first album, Only One.

Released: April 30, 2010
1. What (New Ver.) (뭐라고)

No clue why I’m actually reviewing this. I thought it would actually be something ‘new’ but What (New Ver.) is really not much different than the original. The only difference is there is a little more pizazz for the intro as the rest of the song is pretty much the same thing as it was in the album.

Overall: Little disappointing that they changed it up so little. They could have remixed this song quite well too or at least made it different. It is still good, but I’m only giving it a lower score because it’s not that much different.