[Digital Single] KNK – Closer

Closer is the second digital single released by KNK. It was their last release before the departure of member Youjin and the group’s leave from their label.

closerknk

Released: April 28, 2018
1. Closer (한 끗 차이)
2. Closer (instrumental)

Closer is sung by the group’s vocal line consisting of members Inseong, Jihun and Heejun. As expected, this song a ballad and sounds like something that would work nicely as an OST. Unfortunately, for that same reason, the song is sort of lacking in some areas. It has a really beautiful piano foundation and the song gains energy as it goes on, but the melody seems a bit dragged out and doesn’t quite have the biggest impact. I think it would have been better with a fuller arrangement.


Overall: This is a decent ballad and it’s not bad, just that it could be better than it is. It really sounds like the kind of ballad from a group that doesn’t quite have the biggest budget as while it is beautiful, it just doesn’t quite hit the punch with its music. The guys do sound great though.

B

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[Repackaged] KNK – GRAVITY, Completed

GRAVITY, Completed is the repackaged mini-album of the group’s second single, GRAVITY. It includes three new songs, with Rain being used as the promotional song.

gravitycompleted
Released: July 20, 2017
1. Rain (비)
2. Good Night (이 밤이 지나면)
3. Feel So Good
4. Think About You
5. Very Pretty (너무 예뻐)
6. Sun, Moon, Star (해, 달, 별)

Rain continues sort of blends the laid-back midtempo style of Sun, Moon, Star with the drama of their more upbeat tunes. It has an interesting arrangement with the touches of saxophone and gentle piano foundation. I quite like this song and I do find it more appealing than their last promo song just because it is more dramatic while still providing a catchy melody. It’s not their strongest tune, but it is a solid song.

Good Night is a change as we are given something a bit more lighthearted. I do like how it starts and I quite like the midtempo sound of the music and the more touching take on the guys’ delivery. With that said, I do wish the chorus pushed things a little more because it definitely needs a catchier chorus to take it to the next level and it just ends up a bit forgettable.

Feel So Good is the upbeat song of the repackaged mini and it’s a weird combination of styles. I don’t quite like the music because everything just sounds too cluttered and all over the place. It’s a bit unfortunate because I think if it went something more streamlined tropical house, then I think the melody could have actually let out its potential. The messy arrangement covers the hooks of the melody.


Overall: The newer songs on this repackaged mini weren’t that bad, but it felt similar to the original single in the sense that two songs were decent and one was weaker. It didn’t really wow me and there was nothing like Back Again or U, but the promo was still a nice listen.

B

[Single] KNK – GRAVITY

GRAVITY is the second single released by KNK. Sun, Moon, Star was used as the promo song.

gravity
Released: May 25, 2017
1. Think About You
2. Very Pretty (너무 예뻐)
3. Sun, Moon, Star (해, 달, 별)
4. Sun, Moon, Star (Instrumental)

The single opens with Think About You, which is a laid-back pop/R&B intro. It’s the type of song that you would hear in the coffee shop. I quite like the music here because of the piano and touches of funky guitar. It’s a decent opener, but not that memorable.

Very Pretty is a nice change as it is something more upbeat and exciting with its tropical house sound. I think the verses are a bit awkward with the very fast-paced delivery. Luckily, the chorus is a bit better. The hook is quite strong and I like that the chorus doesn’t just give a drop and leave it up to the music to do the work. The melody is catchy and I like that it has a more intense quality to it. Decent tune.

Sun, Moon, Star is quite different because we are given something that’s a little more laid back. It has a stronger R&B sound to it and reminds of some older K-Pop songs. I wasn’t into the song that much at first, but it has definitely grown on me more. The melody is catchier than the last tune, but I feel like the overall delivery of the song isn’t as impacting. It’s still a good track and the guys sound great.


Overall: This was a decent single. I think the intro was the weakest part of it, while the two full songs were actually quite good. Each brought something a little different but they were still pulled off quite well. It’s not KNK’s most memorable release, but it’s a solid single.

B+

[Mini-Album] KNK – REMAIN

REMAIN is the second mini-album released by KNK. U was used as the promotional track.

remain
Released: November 17, 2016
1. Stay
2. U
3. Beauty (아름다워)
4. I Know (웃어줄래)
5. Goodbye (괜찮은가봐)
6. Tonight

The mini opens with Stay, a dramatic and haunting opener. I actually wish it was longer because the verse and chorus would have been excellent in a full song mode. Actually, I think it has capabilities to be a single. It’s unfortunate that it ends so early.

U continues the dark sound and is a nice follow-up to their last promo track, Back Again. I actually love U more because it keeps that more melodic pop sound but adds a really catchy “U, U, U” hook into the second half of the chorus. The blast of synths and funky beat really help to keep the song progressing, but it’s that hook that really helps the song have a stand out part. Great.

Beauty is another upbeat song, but has some bright 80’s funk elements to it. The one thing I do find distracting is the odd beat because it is a bit odd and scratchy sounding. The rest of the song is great though as the light synths and subtle bass really helps give some punch to the song. The melody is quite catchy, although I wouldn’t say it’s as catchy as the last song. The second half of the chorus is certainly more memorable and the repetitive hook is nicely placed.

I Know slows things down and gives us a midtempo R&B ballad. I don’t think it’s really memorable, but it’s still a solid tune. I do find the verses a bit dull as they sort of drag a long. The chorus is a bit better and reminds me a bit of something BIG BANG would do. It’s not the most explosive song, but it doesn’t detract from the album’s quality.

Goodbye is more along the lines of pop. It has a nice guitar backing, but this is the type of song I’m not totally into. Considering the title, it comes off as rather bright and uplifting. However, the melody just isn’t that memorable. It’s a sweet tune, but could really use a bit more energy in the chorus.

Tonight finishes the album on an upbeat note and I absolute love the disco/funk vibe of the song. This is certainly KNK’s fastest song and its a really nice change of pace from their usual sound. The verses are fun and do well do build up to that explosive dance/pop chorus. I do wish the chorus had something a bit more memorable, but the rap really helps bring the needed energy.


Overall: This mini was quite good and much better than their first one. The upbeat songs were all really good and help to bring a bit of variety to the group’s sound. I really liked that they played around with the sounds a bit more on here. I Know and Goodbye are decent, but they did lack a bit of a punch and could be improved on. With that said, they were still enjoyable to listen to. Just maybe a bit too safe.

A

[Mini-Album] KNK – AWAKE

AWAKE is the first mini-album released by KNK. BACK AGAIN was used as the promotional song.

awake
Released: June 2, 2016
1. GONE
2. BACK AGAIN
3. I Remember (요즘 넌 어때)
4. I’ll Try (노력해볼게)
5. DAY N NIGHT
6. Propose (고백)
7. BACK AGAIN (Inst.)
8. I Remember (Inst.)

GONE is a really interesting opener. Just shy of two minutes long, it utilizes a really interesting background vocal arrangement. The song has a cool arrangement to it that really helps highlight the vocals of each member. It’s a nice midtempo pop tune with a slight R&B twist. It’s a bit unfortunate it is just an opener.

I do love how the background vocals transition right into BACK AGAIN, which is like the more upbeat cousin of the last song. A song that brings back the sound of the more dramatic styles of 2009-2011, BACK AGAIN fuses the more ballad-like melody with a heavy dance beat. I love this style and it’s a nice return to this sound. I think the best part is how each section of the song brings a bit of a twist. The verses with its fusion of rap and singing, while the choruses bring a high-energy and passionate intertwining of a more melodic style and repetition. It’s great.

I Remember brings it down a notch again with something more midtempo. Unlike the last two songs, this one is definitely more lighthearted. I do wish the music a bit more organic though. There is an interesting synth-piano refrain, but it would be better if it was just a piano. With that said, the melody is quite nice. It’s sweet and reminds me of something done by a few other groups before. The melody could be more memorable, but it’s a decent tune.

I’ll Try is the first ballad and features a nice R&B beat. It kind of reminds me of the ballad version of the first two songs. However, I just find something is missing with this one. The melody just isn’t very memorable to me and it is quite unpredictable, but in a way that leaves it sounding a bit messy. I do enjoy the rap break that comes in, but the song is a bit forgettable as a whole and I don’t like how the vocals are sung.

DAY N NIGHT finally gives something a bit more fun. It’s an upbeat pop song with a stronger electronic feel, but it still ties itself into the rest of the mini-album. I quite like the electronic refrain that’s happening in the background and it works nicely with the rest of the music. However, I feel like the chorus could be a bit stronger in its delivery. Still, a decent tune.

Propose is a nice laidback midtempo pop song and is quite similar to I Remember, but with a fuller arrangement. I do feel like this one is one of the stronger songs on the mini and the guys sound great. The music is more interesting and the melody is definitely much catchier. It’s a nice ending.


Overall: For their first mini, this was a pretty decent delivery. The promotional song was definitely the highlight, but there were some pretty good listens throughout. I do wish there was a bit more surprises because while there was a nice cohesion, many of the other songs lacked strong hooks that would make me want to listen to them again.

B

[Single] KNK – KNOCK

KNK is one of the many boy bands that debuted in 2016. Well-known for their tall stature and good looks, the group has done decently coming from a smaller company. They were one of my favourite rookie groups of 2016. KNOCK is their debut single.

knock
Released: March 3, 2016
1. KNOCK [MV]
2. Angel Heart (마음씨)
3. KNOCK (Inst.)
4. Angel Heart (Inst.)

KNOCK recalls days past. The sound is very reminiscent of the boy band sounds of 2010-2011 with its more dramatic ballad-pop fusion style. However, the song does have its fair share of surprises. While it starts off with a gorgeous piano refrain for the verses, the chorus has much more impact with its heavy string and percussion backing. While there are some nice moments, I do feel the song is a bit forgettable. The melody is rather static and although catchy, it comes off a little monotone. It has definitely grown on me though.

Angel Heart brings us a nice pop ballad. To be honest, I’m a bit skeptical with idol groups doing ballads since a lot of them tend to come off as the generic R&B/pop style. This song isn’t much different, but the quality is surprisingly high. I think the music with the gorgeous piano refrain and heavy beat works really well with the melody. The melody itself is actually really nice and quite catchy for a ballad.


Overall: This wasn’t a bad debut single at all. I do believe the ballad was the stronger of the two songs with its gorgeous soaring chorus, but KNOCK wasn’t bad either. I just wish the title track had a bit more of a lasting impact.

B+

[Special] 2016 Top 50 K-Pop Songs 20-11

deepened
20. Brave Girls – Deepened (변했어) (Deepened)
Brave Girls debuted all the way back in 2011 with a rather charming tune. Unfortunately, they lost a bit a steam and re-debuted in 2016 with a different line-up. Deepened brings us a steamy and sensual R&B/Hip-hop and what a return it has been. Definitely something that stands out from the other girl groups, the girls work with this rather emotional tune. I love how dragged out the verses sound, which helps bring the energy in the chorus despite it being on the slower side of things (at least compared to a lot of K-Pop). I also love the line “I’m thirsty for your love”.

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19. B1A4 – Lie (거짓말이야) (GOOD TIMING)
B1A4 has always released quality tunes and Lie is no different. Definitely something that continues their general “sound”, Lie has one major highlight and that is the chorus. I actually find the verses to be somewhat forgettable and generic, but it’s that soaring chorus that really brings the whole sound together. I love the small touches in the music and I think they really help bring the extra punch to the song, especially the background vocals. It’s a magical song and their first to grab my attention in a while.

prism
18. Rainbow – Whoo (PRISM)
Despite their disbandment later in the year, Whoo was a nice return for the girl group. It is a nice balance between the group’s cuter releases and their more mature ones. It’s catchy and a lot of fun. Definitely not their strongest 2016 song (Black & White), Whoo is just an explosion of energy. I love how the small rock elements that help keep the song afloat and give the song some edge, which is especially heard in the second half the chorus. I think every member is able to bring their own flavour to the song and it helps to provide a bit of individuality.

street
17. EXID – L.I.E (STREET)
EXID had a big year this year. A lot of pressure was placed on them to move away from the “Up & Down sound” that had been staple in their last three title tracks. L.I.E brings the fun edge of EXID, but provides a nice change of pace. Not as upbeat as their last few songs, this one took awhile for me to get used to, but I actually ended up loving it more and more. I love the how the song has such a big chorus that busts right into the breakdown and LE’s rapping with the more toned down parts bring a nice contrast. Definitely my favourite of their title tracks since Up & Down.

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16. 100% – Better Day (지독하게) (TIME LEAP)
100% has had a weird history with the group’s line-up changes and hiatus. Fortunately, the group has made a return and they hit it out of the park. The group has always had title tracks that featured a darker feel to them and Better Day continues that and ups the antics. I love how dramatic and haunting the song is, which is helped by the piercing synth refrain introduced and the general ascending feel of the chorus. I also love how the vocalists change things up and showcase their upper registers.

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15. KNK – U (Remain)
KNK was one of the many boy band debuts of the year and they came with a mature image that matched their more old school K-Pop boy band sound. While their debut wasn’t my cup of tea, Back Again and their follow-up are great. U has definitely grown on me even more as I love the extra hip-hop touches that pop up. I feel it is a bit more accessible than Back Again with its two prong chorus. I’m not the biggest fan of repetitive choruses, but I really enjoy how they execute it in this song. That and the overall dramatic sound really gets me jamming along.

myst3ry
14. LADIES’ CODE – Galaxy (MYST3RY)
LADIES’ CODE’s 2014 accident definitely took a huge toll on the group and it was uncertain whether they would return. Fortunately, the girls have returned and their sound is stronger than ever. While the group used to do more upbeat tunes, Galaxy provides a midtempo jazzy/R&B number that plays on the strengths of the members. Sojung especially flourishes in this kind of genre and her husky vocals really give the song some soul. It’s a bit slower, but I like the change of sound.

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13. BLACKPINK – Playing With Fire (불장난) (Square Two)
One of the most anticipated debuts of the year, BLACKPINK saw success right out of the gate. While their debut single was fun, I found the song to be very similar in sound to YG’s previous girl group, 2NE1. Luckily, their second single helped to create the group’s own sound. Playing With Fire is definitely my favourite of all their releases this year. It’s mature and sensual while playing up the synths, but it is insanely catchy and matches the image of the girls’ well. I especially love the synth refrain during the instrumental sections. It’s slick and cool.

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12. Red Velvet – Russian Roulette (러시안 룰렛) (Russian Roulette)
While many felt their ballad, One of These Nights, was a bit dull, I absolutely loved it. However, it is no doubt that the group really works great with their upbeat numbers. Russian Roulette is a nice change because it combines the fun characteristics of their “Red” songs, while also providing something a bit more streamlined like their “Velvet” tunes. This is all sorts of catchy and I actually really enjoy how fun the verses are. The chorus isn’t as bombastic, but it slides right in and provides some cute hooks with the funky and robotic backdrop. It’s a girl group doing old school video game music.

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11. PLEDIS GIRLZ – WE (WE)
PLEDIS GIRLZ have already planned their debut under the name, PRISTIN, for later this month, but last year the group released this pre-release number. Riding off the success of Produce 101, WE features the members that didn’t make it into I.O.I and a few new faces. Synth paradise, WE dwells in the realm of the more innocent sounds, but don’t let fool you. This is one heck of a song. I think what I enjoy most of the song is the feeling it gives. It is difficult to explain, but it really helps to create a nice united sound and image for the group, which especially felt by the last chorus where things are brought up a level. It’s a bit generic, but it’s a well-crafted pop tune.