Rain – Rainism [5th Korean Album]

October 25, 2008 at 9:14 pm (Rain) (, )

Rain’s 5th Korean album, entitled Rainism, was released on 10.16.08. After various messages about starting an American career (being in movies such as Speed Racer), he returns to Korea for the long-awaited Rainism.

My Way serves as the album’s opener. It’s a very strange introductory track as it first sounds like someone is setting something up and once Rain begins singing, there is this really annoying sound that continues. This was a very pointless track on the album and should have not even been on the album.

The title track, Rainism, comes as the album’s first full number. The song begins with a mysterious and sleek instrumental with Rain speaking and there’s a certain sexual atmosphere that comes through. As the song goes on, the instrumentation becomes even more addictive and then Rain repeats “I gotta be a bad boy, I’m gonna be a bad bad boy” and that only amplifies the sexual energy. On the first verse, his verse sounds very sleek but the words that he sings higher sound really out of place in keeping with the cool atmosphere. The chorus is a little disappointing as it doesn’t take it to the next level but it is catchy. The long section of pure instrumentation is wonderful because the music, which is the best part of the song, really is spotlighted. Rainism is actually a pretty simple song but it’s a catchy one with truly hot instrumentation.

The tempo slows down a little bit for the next track, Only You. The opening instrumentation is a combination of a very pretty guitar and some electronic sounds, which really catches the listener’s ear. On the first verse, Rain gives smooth vocals that portray the emotional quality of the song perfectly. The chorus is nice but his voice is a little too high here to really suit the music. Only You isn’t a bad song by any means but it would have been better had he stuck to a lower octave on the chorus.

Love Story is the album’s first real ballad. The song starts off with very pretty instrumentation but Rain really shouldn’t have been talking over it. On the first verse, his vocals are gorgeous, effectively communicating the emotions of the song. The transition from the verse into the chorus is so smooth that it’s hard for the listener to realize when the chorus starts but once it becomes apparent, they can hold onto it as his voice remains beautiful as does the music. One section of the song that really stands out is the third verse as the music takes a slight change and Rain keeps up with it fantastically.

사랑이라는 건 is a very pretty midtempo number and really catches the listener’s ear as there is something just so natural about the song. You can really feel that you’re there with Rain as he sings and that always gives the song that personal touch that makes it so loveable. It’s definitely one of the standout numbers on Rainism.

One thing that becomes very apparent while listening to Rainism is that Rain has a habit of speaking over the opening instrumental and honestly, it gets annoying after a while. Unfortunately, 내 여자  is a very forgettable track because it sounds like a throwaway version of 사랑이라는 건. His vocals aren’t particularly impressive and the music sounds so boring that the listener can’t even enjoy it.

Finally we come to another upbeat number with You. The song starts off with a very dark and mysterious instrumental that instantly gets the listener ready for something intense. His speaking actually works well on this song before the first verse starts. His vocals here are perfect and even the higher vocals go perfectly with the music although it is a little hard to distinguish the line between the verse and the chorus at first listen. Overall You is a fantastic song that the listener can really get into as the sexual atmosphere is back to enjoy.

It’s nice to see Rain try new things and that’s just what he does on Fresh Woman as he explores upbeat jazzy sounds. One notable thing about this song is that he sticks to the lower vocals and it really pays off because going into the higher range just would have made his vocals clash with the song. Fresh Woman sounds great and definitely is one of the album’s most memorable numbers.

Rain teams up with C-Luv for 더 끌려, another upbeat enjoyable song. The talking at the beginning is a phone conversation in English and it does sound really annoying but after it finishes, we come to the chorus and Rain’s vocals sound great here, staying smooth to match the sleek instrumentation. Although his vocals tend to be better in the lower range, he sounds almost sleepy on the verses and his voice almost draws the lyrics. Nonetheless, it’s a very fun and cool track that stands out on Rainism.

That coolness continues on the tenth track, 고개 돌려. From the moment the instrumentation starts, the listener is taken into a sleek world and on the first verse, Rain has the same problem as ealier as sounding a little sleepy at points instead of retaining that cool atmosphere. However everything becomes all right on the chorus as the backing vocals support the front vocals very well and both ride with the music strongly. It’s still an enjoyable number that finds its home on Rainism.

After a slew of upbeat trck, 9월 12일 comes as a smooth and intimate ballad. It’s easily the best slow song on the album as Rain’s vocals show the emotional presence of the song and the music is just so smooth and soft that the listener can’t help but fall in love with it. He definitely shined on this song and made it one of the most memorable ones of the entire album.

While My Way (Intro) was the opening track, the closing song is also entitled My Way. Although it’s miles better than the original, it’s still a pretty forgettable song. Rain’s vocals are nice but the music is so boring that the listener just has a hard time connecting with the song at all.

Album Ranking: B +

Rainism is a nice collection of songs ranging from infectious dance tracks to some emotional ballads. Rain generally delivered on the upbeat songs with Rainism and You being some of the album’s best offerings. As far as ballads go, 9월 12일 is gorgeous and is a standout song while the other slow numbers are generally forgettable. If we can bring such strength on the next album with more interesting ballad instrumentals then he’ll be set.

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Tohoshinki – 주문 (MIROTIC) [4th Korean Album]

September 27, 2008 at 5:08 pm (Tohoshinki) (, )

주문 (MIROTIC), a hot and edgy dance track, serves as the album’s title track. Opening the song is an addictive dance instrumental that immediately catches the listener’s ear. The vocals during the first verse help establish that sexy edginess that the boys are taking on as the image theme and their vocals perfectly follow the beat. During the chorus, the music becomes more aggressive and when they sing “I got you under my skin,” the listener absolutely melts. The various English phrases throughout the song such as “chrome heart” and “red ocean” can be a little hard to decipher but they provide the song with a few moments to pop every now and then. Of course the rap section fits perfectly on this song with that sleek coolness that the song suits perfectly. Next is an absolutely fantastic vocal that blows the listener’s away from the pure power. More of the chorus comes to close the song on a strong way as they sing “I got you under my skin” with a sexy element about it. This is a brilliant song from the boys and definitely one the listener can enjoy as the boys take on that sexy route so strongly.

Up next is Wrong Number, which slows things down a bit while still keeping a dance feel. The song starts off with a very interesting and sleek instrumentation with somewhat of a dark atmosphere that nicely introduces the first verse. The vocals have a nice edge to them that continues that sexy atmosphere that the boys are going for. The chorus is simple as the lyrics are all in English as they say “you’ve got the wrong number.” With only three lines, the listener wants a little more but it fits so nicely with the overall atmosphere of the song that it’s still enjoyable. The vocal power comes out on the third verse, where some of the member show what they can do. The rapping section fits very nicely with the dark atmosphere and makes for a standout section of the song. As Jaejong’s first time rapping, he did a very good job because his voice just moves so well with the music. Although it isn’t as strong as the title track, it’s a nice follow-up worth the listen.

노을..바라보다, the album’s first ballad, follows Wrong Number. A very pretty piano-driven instrumental begins the song and then on the first verse, the vocals portray such emotion that the listener really believes what they are singing. They do some fantastic harmonizing on the chorus and the prettiness of the instrumentation really swells the emotions inside the listener. The emotions are clear; the vocals are strong and the atmosphere established by the instrumentation is beautiful, making this a standout song on the album and another one in a string of strong songs from the boys.

We come back to more upbeat music for the fourth song, CRAZY LOVE. A very slick and cool instrumentation takes the song off and then a sweet edgy pop sound comes through to introduce the first verse. The vocals here ae somewhat distorted in keeping with the music but it works really well and catches the listener’s ear. The chorus is enjoyable as they reach a little higher and the vocals suit the lightness of the music so perfectly. Once again, the boys bring strength, keeping the interest level of the listener high and ready for the next track.

HEY! (Don’t bring me down) maintains that upbeat sound from the last song but in a more aggressive dance way. The opening instrumentation sounds fantastic and then the first verse comes in, complete with sleek and sexy vocals to make the listener melt. During the chorus, the aggression of the instrumental comes full force to match the edginess of the boys’ vocals. There is a nice little hook of repeating “give it away” and it is a very nice fit for the song. One part that really stands out is the pure instrumental section and it’s just so strong that the listener can’t not fall in love with it. HEY! (Don’t bring me down) is one of the best songs the album has to offer so it’s definitely one to listen to.

Going back to the slow songs is 넌 나의 노래. Unfortunately, after a series of great songs, this midtempo number falls a little bit flat. The problem with this song is that the music is nice, the vocals are nice and that’s it: everything is just nice. There’s no clear strong point in the song so the listener just sort of wafts through the three and a half minutes. It would have been better if this song would have been left off of the album.

무지개 nicely raises the interest level as the boys come back to a dance song. A very upbeat poppish instrumental that channels what feels like older sounds begins the song and immediately the listener’s attention is caught. The first verse features some smooth and sexy vocals that go perfectly with the music that go with the whole atmosphere of the album. On the chorus, the lyrics are sung with a certain rapidity and the music just becomes lighter to really give the image of a rainbow. This is another one of the album’s jewels and while it is not as aggressive as some of the other songs, it is still addictive and worth the listen.

Continuing the prettiness is 낙원. It sort of draws on cues from the last track to keep the listener in the same pretty and sweet atmosphere, this time taking the tempo down a little bit to make a midtempo number. The vocals are great again and really move well with the music to make this an enjoyable and catchy song.

악녀 (Are you A Good Girl?) brings the listener back to that hot dance sound that the boys sound so comfortable on. The instrumentation is sleek and aggressive and that aggression is seen predominantly on the chorus, particularly on the fast parts. During the verses, the boys nicely keep that sleekness and sexiness so well that the listener once again can just melt. Surely it’s a standout song as the boys stick to the genre that they can shine so strongly on.

Well Flower Lady was an attempt and a sweet and cute number to finish the album but it’s actually one of the more forgettable songs, if not the most forgettable. The music sort of draws on without ever really coming to one standout point so although the idea was nice, it just wasn’t executed well.

Album Ranking: A –

This is a great album, particularly for the edgy dance tracks such as Mirotic, HEY (Don’t bring me down) and 악녀 (Are you A Good Girl?). On slower and prettier numbers like 무지개 and 낙원. There are few misteps on this album, which makes for an enjoyable process.

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SHINee – SHINee World [Volume One]

August 30, 2008 at 6:59 pm (SHINee) (, )

SHINee’s debut album (their first full album), entitled SHINee World, was released on 09.29.08. 산소 같은 너 (Love Like Oxygen) was released as a digital single before the album.

The album opens up with the title track, The SHINee World (doo-bop). The song begins with a hot dance beat that immediately catches the listener’s ear and the speaking, which is done in a low tone carries an element of sexiness to it that leaves the listener wanting more. Then the first verse comes in and the vocals sound great here, mirroring the edge of the music. When the group comes together for the chorus, they really shine and the English phrases pop strongly. There is a slight instrumental change during the third verse and there is almost an out-of-this-world feeling that compliments the boys’ vocals before the hot edgy dance sound is spotlighted on a pure instrumental section. This is an absolutely fantastic opening number and SHINee makes the song catch the listener’s ear brilliantly.

Up next is 사랑의 길 (Love’s Way). Opening the song is a very pretty instrumental that reflects an emotional atmosphere before the first verse. The vocals are smooth and support that atmosphere and as the verse continues, the instrumentation begins to carry a little more energy that makes the song more upbeat. They sound nice on the chorus although it lacks a certain element that makes it memorable. Strangely enough, the rap sequence is very capturing as the low tone of the vocals seperates from the music to catch the listener’s ear. Following are some vocalizations that show off the vocal power of some of the members. Overall this song is nice and a good fit for the album although it doesn’t stand out to the listener as strongly as other ones.

Things take on a lighter pop sound with the digital single, 산소 같은 너 (Love Like Oxygen), released before the album. Taking off the song is that cool pop sound and then Jonghyun delivers some edgy and capturing vocals. The hook sounds fantastic as Taemin and Minho’s vocals compliment each other’s strongly and makes way for the brilliant chorus. Everyone shines on the chorus as the vocal strength of the group is put to the forefront. They hit the higher notes strongly and the music retains that smooth pop sound that is so addictive. Minho and Key then come for their raps, which are a really good fit for the song and keeps the listener enticed. This is one of the album’s strongest numbers and the boys definitely suit this sound perfectly.

The fourth song is 너 아니면 안되는 걸 (ROMANTIC). The song starts off with a nice and sweet midtempo sound that just makes the listener want to smile. During the first verse, the vocals are smooth and carry the song’s atmosphere perfectly. The chorus carries that pretty sweetness that the listener can enjoy as the boys provide strong vocals that portray the emotions. Joghyun really shines here as he sings “still I have romantic in my heart” with amazing vocals. It’s the emotions that make this song memorable and worth checking out.

Things pick up a little with the sweet song, 그녀가 헤어졌다 (One For Me). There is a nice midtempo instrumental that begins the song and then the first verse starts. The vocals are so smooth here and they move perfectly with the music, demonstrating power as well. Then comes the chorus, which is nice but a little bland. Once again, the rap sequence fits with the music and there is an excellent high note hit in the background. The music is sweet and the boys bring that sweetness to life with their excellent voices.

화장을 하고 (Graze) is the album’s next song. There is a nice midtempo instrumental driven by the guitar before the first verse. The vocals sound very smooth here and the combination of their voices with the guitar is an unstoppable force. They come together for the chorus and the vocals are strong as always, making the chorus the most memorable part of the song. The rap sequence has a certain sexiness to it that really works in the song’s favor and the English phrases pop nicely. In the series of slow numbers, this one shines even more than the last and is one of the best songs that the album has to offer.

화장을 하고 (Last Gift) continues the streak of slower songs but this one takes on more of a ballad feel. Opening the song is the piano driving the instrumentation and there is a clear beat. The boys give some nice vocals here and keep the atmosphere strong although the music doesn’t do anything to be truly capturing. Then is the chorus, which is nice but a little too simple to catch the listener’s ear. The third verse actually stands out because of the stronger vocals that give the listener a real look into the emotions.

내 곁에만 있어 (Best Place) takes a lighter more poppier sound and is a nice break from all the slow songs. A very pretty poppy instrumental begins the song and makes a smooth transition into the first verse. The vocals are nice here, being able to catch the listener’s ear. The chorus stands out as the boys give more power in their vocals and the emotions are much more visible here. This isn’t a very memorable song and feels like it drags on a little so it’s not one necessary to listen to.

The next song is 혜야 (Y Si Fuera Ella), Jonghyun’s solo song. The song begins with a very pretty instrumental and then the first verse starts. Joghyun really portrays the emotions here as he almost sounds like he was in tears while singing. As the song goes on, the instrumentation changes with slight rock influences to signal a change in the album’s atmosphere. He does a fantastic job of making the listener feel the emotions of the song but it isn’t as great as it could have been.

눈을 감아보면 (Four Seasons) keeps the sweet atmosphere. The song starts off with a nice instrumental that introduces the song on a strong note. Then they come in with the first verse and the vocals are very nice here, moving with the music strongly. Because of all the slow songs that precede this one, the vocals sound okay but they don’t shine. It’s a nice song but it’s definitely not one of the most memorable songs that the album has to offer.

In My Room (Unplugged Remix) is another ballad and the boys sound good here but it doesn’t do anything to really set itself apart from the slew of slow songs that the album has to offer.

누난 너무 예뻐 (Replay), which appeared on their mini-album, closes the album. The song begins with a nice upbeat instrumental and then the first verse starts. The boys’ vocals sound nice here, moving with the music nicely. The chorus is nice as their vocals sound smooth and the repetition of “replay” sticks out in the listener’s mind. Overall it’s enjoyable and picks things up nicely.

Album Ranking: B

SHINee World is a nice album but the biggest problem is that there is a slew of ballads and the listener can never come back to the hot dance beats that began the album and that made them sound so strong. Of course there are some nice slow numbers like 화장을 하고 (Graze) but it’s the upbeat tracks The SHINee World (doo-bop) and 산소 같은 너 (Love Like Oxygen) that are the album’s jewels. This album could have been much stronger had some of the slow songs been replaced with dance numbers, creating a package with more variety.

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Hyori Lee – It’s Hyorish [Volume Three]

August 13, 2008 at 5:47 pm (Hyori Lee) (, )

Hyori Lee’s third album, entitled It’s Hyorish, was released on 07.21.08. U-Go-Girl was a single to help promote the album.

천하무적 이효리 is a hot dance song that serves as the perfect album opener. She starts off the song, repeating “baby baby baby” over a sleek instrumental that is immediately ear-catching and addictive. The various English phrases that run throughout the verses such as “hot like me” and “dance like me” pop nicely and provide a certain coolness that stand out strongly. However the most addictive part of the song is the chorus, when she sings “don’t stop, go rock, your body move” and the music remains as interesting as ever. Closing the song is the same repetition of “baby baby baby” that opened it, making the song a strong one from to start to finish.

Up next is the hot dance song, Lesson. Opening the song is a cool instrumentation that takes the listener into another world. Hyori then takes the lead on the first verse and her vocals give strong control and she pronounces her lyrics so well that the listener is entranced. Soon the chorus comes in and it really stands out, particularly for when she sings “ooh.” On the pure instrumentation, the sexual atmosphere of the song stands out with the repetition of “ooh” in the background. Then there is a very smooth transition into the chorus and closing the song is some more “oohs.” Lesson is definitely a fantastic song and Hyori shines on brightly.

Hyori teams up with Nassun for the first time on the highly catchy U-Go-Girl. After giving a nice little introduction to the song, Nassun brings the chorus as he raps over a cool hip-hop-influenced beat. Hyori then comes in with the first verse and delivers the lyrics with a certain sleekness that makes them so addictive and the “girl” that is sung in English pops out strongly. Then she sings the chorus, followed by the hook, which is sung with strong vocals and supported by a slightly more aggressive instrumental. The third verse is absolutely fantastic as Hyori sings “crazy night, dance all night, let me take you home tonight, it’s all right, hey girl party tonight” twice and she really shines here her voice perfectly compliments the more aggressive instrumentation. Following Nassun and Hyori take the chorus and then they trade off as they sing “I like that that that girl and let me see you bring it back back back girl” and this part is addictive as well. Hyori’s giggling then closes the song perfectly. This song is definitely an album standout and the perfect choice as a single.

사진첩 is the fourth track and slows down things a little. The song begins with a cool and jazzy instrumental that then transitions into the chorus. Hyori brings smooth and sexy vocals here to really capture the song’s atmosphere, enticing the listener. Then the first verse starts and the vocals are a little deeper but still move perfectly with the music. The rap section during the second verse is actually a really great addition to the song and continues to support the song’s atmosphere well. Another enjoyable section is when she does some vocalizing that definitely fits with the whole jazzy sound of the song. This is another great number and Hyori shines while trying out a different sound.

Up next is 이발소 집 딸, which is home to a more midtempo sound. Beginning the song is a very interesting instrumental that feels like it’s part of a drama or something as there are various people talking and then some very strange vocals come in, which are completely un-necessary. Hyori then comes in with the first verse and she brings some strength as her vocals give power and control, catching the listener’s attention. Then the chorus starts and she gives more nice vocals but the strange voices that run through the back-side are somewhat distract. Overall, Hyori definitely does a nice job on this song but the other voices really provide an annoying distraction from the enjoyment of the song.

With a strong atmosphere and a clear emotional presence, Don’t Cry is definitely a memorable song. A cool instrumental with a certain darkness to it opens up the song and then brings the first verse. Her vocals sound slightly distorted here and she sounds great here, really capturing the song’s atmosphere. Following, her vocals abandon the distortion and she continues to bring the emotions. The English phrases such as the title of the song and “feel me” really make the chorus stand out to the listener. She sings “1, 2, 3” and then gives some very smooth vocals, leading into a small pure instrumental section that sounds great. When she sings “you’re nothing to me,” she delivers such power and emotion in her vocals that the listener really takes notice. Don’t Cry does a great job of taking a slower sound and bringing emotions to the forefront, capturing the listener’s attention from start to finish.

Bigtone joins Hyori on the slow jam, 괜찮아질까요? Opening the song is a sweet instrumental that makes the transition into the first verse smoothly. Hyori’s vocals are very pretty and have a certain fragility to them that catches the listener’s attention. The chorus is a little bland but her vocals are nice. Bigtone’s rap sequence is actually a nice fit with the song’s atmosphere and compliments the music well. It’s a pretty nice song although it’s a little forgettable.

Wheesung and Hyori then team up for Sexyboy. The song begins with a very fun drum-driven instrumentation and then Hyori comes in with the chorus, which stands out for the English as she sings “sexy, sexy, baby you are so sexy.” Wheesung also sounds great as he sings the Korean lines following her. Her vocal strength continues on the first verse as she delivers smooth and pretty vocals to support the light and sleek instrumentation. On the second verse, Wheesung continues to bring strong vocals that sound absolutely fantastic, moving perfectly with the music. The two of them make a great team and certainly compliment each other and the music.

빨간자동차 features K-Pop veteran, Kim Gun Mo. The song starts off an island sound that is somewhat unexpected so it definitely stands out to the listener. Hyori delivers some great vocals on the first verse, supporting the music strongly and the English phrase “I am so happy” really pops. The chorus doesn’t really stand out as there is no real instrumental change and no significant vocal change to seperate it from the verse. Kim Gun Mo gives his all on the second verse and actually sounds pretty nice, although he sounds a bit strange on some parts. The song does get points for trying a new sound although it isn’t as memorable as other songs.

Hey Mr. Big really picks up the pace with a cool sound. Hyori sounds perfectly at home on the first verse as she sings with a certain rapidity that catches the listener’s ear strongly. The chorus sounds great and the English phrases “hey listen, Mr. Boy” and “hey, get ’em Mr. Big” really stand out. There is an out-of-this-world feeling that comes through the pure instrumental section that sounds absolutely fantastic. Hey Mr. Big is definitely an album highlight, bringing back the sexier dance sound that Hyori can really bring her magic to.

Nassun comes back for P.P.P. (Punky Punky Party), another fantastic number from this album. The song takes off with a cool and very interesting instrumentation that takes the listener to another world. Then there is some vocalizing from Hyori and the first verse follows. She gives very nice vocals and the various English phrases that begin with “don’t” shine strongly. The chorus stands out as she brings more nice vocals and the title of the song stands out. Nassun then comes in for the second verse and does a fantastic job, delivering his lyrics quickly and sleekly, taking the listener back into Hyori to finish off the verse. The song closes with the cool vocalizing and then the addictive instrumentation sequence that stands out. Hyori and Nassun definitely make a magic team and this is another great song from the two.

The album’s semifinale is 외국곡. She begins the song by repeating “are you feelin’ me” and then the first verse starts. Her vocals are nice although the music is a little boring. The chorus has more of a poppiness to it that seperates it from the verses but it isn’t very capturing as the music doesn’t offer any catchy part. Luckily she brings stronger vocals and the music slightly changes for the better on the third verse, which comes through as the strongest part of the song. Overall, it’s not a particularly capturing song but it’s worth the listen every now and then. 

Seo Jungwhan joins Hyori for the album’s closing number, Unusual. Opening the song is a very interesting instrumental that is very ear-catching. Hyori comes in on the first verse with sleek vocals that go with the music and sound great. Seo then takes a shot and his vocals also go with the music, making a nice transition into the chorus, when Hyori delivers more powerful vocals and the instrumentation becomes slightly more aggressive. This is a very strong way to close the album and certainly features a nice upbeat tempo that the listener can enjoy.

Album Ranking: A –

Hyori Lee brought fire to her third album and It’s Hyorish definitely has some of the strongest songs in her enire discography. Both songs with Nassun, U-Go-Girl and P.P.P. (Punky Punky Party), are some of the album highlights. 천하무적 이효리 and Hey Mr. Big are also memorable dance numbers worth checking out. As for slowing things down, Don’t Cry is the star track for that atmosphere. Of course, there are a few songs that don’t catch the listener’s ear but overall, it’s a strong album that shows what Hyori can do.

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