What is this blog?

Hello everyone!

I’d like to thank everyone who has followed the blog for sticking around despite me not being active on here whatsoever for the past two months. I apologise for that. I honestly wasn’t feeling very inspired or motivated to do anything with this. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about what I want to do here going forward. This originally started as something that was meant for me to write about 500 words a day about whatever I wanted, then I thought about possibly tackling some larger writing projects which… never happened. I feel a large part of why I stopped writing here and never did any of the writing projects I wanted to do is because I just 100% was trying to do way too much. 

I was looking back at my 2020 year in review post and immediately saw what I just mentioned above: I was trying to do way too much. Working a full time job, learning 3 different languages with 3 different tutors, and maintaining other hobbies and being able to relax? Yeah, not really happening! So, the past couple of months away from here have been an interesting learning experience for myself which I thought I would share here.

The major thing I did over the past couple of months was deciding to let go. But, what to let go of? In previous posts, I talked about learning Mandarin Chinese and Japanese, alongside with Korean. Well, I officially gave up Chinese and Japanese. I thought about possibly doing self study only with Japanese, but let’s look at my experience with the language: it’s a language I had said I wanted to learn for over 10 years, and let’s be real, I can’t even read or remember all the hiragana. I’ll always have a soft spot for Japanese media and culture in my heart, but I think it’s safe to say that learning the language is not for me. And that’s okay! I gave up on Chinese because… it’s hard. I just couldn’t grasp it at all. I think I gave it a fair shot with 2 months of lessons and got through HSK1 lesson 4. I even tried learning apps alongside the lessons and those weren’t helping either, so I figured it was time to give it up instead of forcing myself to continue with it.

So, that’s one of my 2021 resolutions completely obliterated. Although, it also reinforces my resolution of just focusing on my passions. With two languages done, I can focus on Korean which I am still loving and it’s going very well! I do 2-3 lessons a week (depending on availability of my tutor) of Korean which is nice just focusing on one thing.

Another thing I did that I talked about getting rid of, was going back to social media! I think a lot of it has to do with who you follow and what fandoms you want to participate in on different platforms. I went back to Instagram but instead of stressing about posting 1-2 screenshots a day, I just post whenever I want and want to also focus on myself and other interests/hobbies as well. Yeah, the 2,000+ likes are gone but I don’t really care about that anymore. With Twitter, I left every single KPOP fandom and hardly ever post about it anymore. I lurk official accounts for news now and that’s been a lot better than actively participating or following fan accounts. I still very much love KPOP and listen to it still, and will support my favorite groups and soloists, but I have finally found a very healthy balance of it for my mental health and am able to really enjoy it again like I used to!

So, with all of that out of the way.. I have been thinking about the blog again. I know I wanted to write about BTS and ENHYPEN, but I think when they release new music I may write about them. I’ll leave the theorizing to the lovely experts over on YouTube. What will I write about then? I think I’m going to go back to: writing about whatever I feel inspired by. Really though, this blog is just a very big journey and learning experience for me, and I’d love to see that continue as life goes on.

Over the next few days, and yes I really truly mean it this time, there may be some small tweaks happening visually with the blog, and I will be updating the social media panel, sidebar, actually posting an about me and about the blog section, and making a post about this new thing I bought the other day:

Playstation 5 disc version, bought from Playstation Direct, photo by me.

Yes, your girl finally bought a Playstation 5!! I have entered the next generation of console gaming and it is fantastic so far! I got incredibly lucky with Playstation Direct after 4 months of trying to get one. I have another controller, some hopefully nice controller skins, and my beloved Demon’s Souls remake coming in the mail soon. All my thoughts and feelings will be revealed about this lovely console in a post over the weekend! 

Until then, thank you for reading. Feel free to leave a comment, even if you just want to say hi. I appreciate you!

Is it really the end of an era?

This past weekend, the long awaited BTS Map of the Soul ON:E online concerts happened! Originally, I had only bought a 4K ticket through the BTS ARMY Fanclub membership for the Saturday show, which for me started at 6am. However, as soon as that concert ended, I bought a ticket for the Sunday show as well, and that one started at 3am for me. It’s now Monday and I’m still super tired and trying to catch up on sleep, however, seeing both shows was 100% entirely worth the exhaustion I will be consumed with for the next few days.

Promotional image for Map of the Soul ON:E concerts, via BigHit Entertainment.

The set list for both shows were the same, save for the encore which was different. There were also some differences such as some outfit choices for the solo songs. Jungkook and Jimin seemed to do a color swap for their solos, with Jimin having a red suit on Saturday and then Jungkook had a red outfit for Sunday. Even if nothing was different, it would have been amazing regardless!

The set list for both days are as follows:

Opening VCRON, N.O, We Are Bulletproof Pt.2

VCR,  Intro: Persona (RM solo), Boy in Luv, MENT, Dionysus

VCR, Interlude: Shadow (SUGA solo), Black Swan, Jimin dance solo, UGH! (Rap line), 00:00 Zero o’Clock (Vocal line)

VCR, My Time (Jungkook solo), Filter (Jimin solo), Moon (Jin solo), Inner Child (V solo)

VCR, Outro: Ego (J-Hope solo), Boy With Luv, MENT, DNA, Dope, No More Dream
Encore Day 1: Butterfly, RUN, Dynamite, Ending MENT, We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal

Encore Day 2: Spring Day, IDOL, Dynamite, Ending MENT, We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal

Both shows were incredible. It was really nice being able to see them perform in this way again since it’s been a while, well almost a year, since they had a concert save for the performances they have done for promotions and “smaller concerts” like the Tiny Desk concert just as an example. With the concerts being online, they were able to achieve some really cool effects throughout the performances with the stage. The “elevator” set up they had for their Dope performance was really cool.

I think the first show was more emotional than the second. Jimin cried and seemed very emotional, I think mostly because he didn’t realize that he would actually see fans on the screen (there were fans that were “there” through their webcams on the screen that the members could see and hear which was really heart warming!), and I also think just the overall state of things at the moment with COVID-19, how things are so much different right now and a lot of people are struggling no matter where you are or what you’re doing. I think Jimin’s feelings could really be felt by a lot of people watching. For the second show, Jimin seemed better and more cheerful so that was nice to see! Also, finally hearing them sing We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal gave me all the feels. Even though it wasn’t in person, I’m glad I was still able to “see” them sing it live.

Each member did really well throughout all the songs. The solos were incredible. It’s hard to pick a favorite performance because I loved them all so much. Jungkook is my favorite member so I’m biased towards him and his performances, so I could say that his solo was my favorite. Really though, they were all amazing and worthy of being on my top tier favorites list. I think this may be one of my favorite concerts. I really love the setlist they had. The solos were wonderful, the group songs were amazing, both encores were definitely made with the fans in mind, and the VCRs!! They obviously filmed these months ago so I’m glad they were finally able to use them. The one before Shadow and then the vocal line one are probably my favorites. I also liked the one before Ego because J-Hope and Jungkook were together in it and it was just super cute. The mixes for a lot of the songs were also very good, and I really wish they would release the mixes or even a live album? Maybe this concert will somehow be available to purchase in the future so I can just have these mixes forever? Because they were all amazing!

One cool thing about these concerts? Syncing up the lightstick! I bought tour merch for the original tour a few months ago and got the Map of the Soul lightstick. Through the live streaming site, you were able to connect the lightstick via bluetooth so it was like you were really there! It was really nice! I love the lightstick and the colors from the concert were so pretty. It was the easiest thing to set up as well. It was easier than connecting my wireless earbuds if I’m being honest…

The ending screen for both concerts featuring the ARMY Bomb (BTS lightstick). Left is 10/10 and Right is 10/11. Photos taken by me.

With the conclusion of these concerts and the fact that BTS have a new album coming next month which means a new era is upon us… does this mean that the Map of the Soul era is truly over? From what RM said yesterday, it seems like this journey has, in fact, come to an end and we should be ready for the next journey to go on with them. It’s sad, because the Map of the Soul era didn’t have a proper tour, but these two shows were better than nothing at all. Maybe there is still hope for a proper MotS tour, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the tickets for that tour were converted into whatever tour they will hopefully be able to have for their new era. Time will tell. Let’s hold onto the words that the members said and hope we can all meet next year and have a proper concert safely together.

How you like that? You better like that.

One of my favorite KPOP groups, Blackpink, are releasing their first ever full length album this Friday! It’s definitely an exciting time since they debuted back in 2016 and have yet to release an album (only mini albums/EPs consisting of 2-4 original songs each), and the length of time between each of their comebacks seemed to be growing longer and longer. So far, we have gotten not one, but two amazing songs and videos from them with How You Like That and Ice Cream (feat. Selena Gomez). And Friday, The Album (yes, that’s the title), will arrive for all of us Blinks around the world who have been waiting for this moment for a long time.

The teasers for The Album have been great so far. I love the vibe and aesthetic they are going with for the title track, which we now know is called Lovesick Girls, and even features writing credits from Jisoo and Jennie, and a production credit from Jennie as well! Yesterday, they dropped the tracklist, and before I go any further I will say this: yes, I am excited for The Album, and yes I will be supporting it as best I can by purchasing it and streaming!

Okay, so now, let’s go…

Blackpink’s The Album track list, via YG Entertainment.

The first thing I noticed? 8 songs. I was honestly pretty disappointed to only see that we are getting 8 songs total, 6 of which are new, for their first full length album. One thing I will say, and maybe this falls under the category of just being my opinion: at least Blackpink’s discography is solid. I feel like their songs have high production value and they have consistently delivered with their title tracks and their b-sides since their debut. I have no doubt that the 6 new songs will also follow this same formula of having high production and being solid bops that I’ll be listening to for a very long time. Still, it kind of stung to see that it’s 8 songs only. I’m very much hoping for quality over quantity for this one.

Some things I’d love to hear on this album? I really would love to have Jennie rapping again. I’ll say right now that yes, Jennie is my favorite, though Blackpink really is one of those groups where I love each and every member and whoever’s photocard I pull, I won’t be disappointed. Anyway, please have Jennie rapping! I love when she and Lisa get paired up as well (like in Kill This Love) since I feel they suit each other very well. Another thing I want more of is Jisoo lines! Please give Jisoo more lines and also screentime in the new video coming this Friday!! Most importantly, I hope that the girls had fun making the album for all of us and that they enjoy the songs, and that their hard work is appreciated. Please no bullying any members if they get a line that you wanted someone else to get. I don’t want to see a repeat of what happened to Lisa with her rap in Ice Cream.

I’d love to see the girls reach #1 on the Billboard charts with The Album. I’m only able to get a couple versions when it releases but will be collecting them all… kind of like what I’m doing with SuperM. Expect to see me back posting about The Album once it releases and my copies arrive in the mail. I’m hoping by midweek next week!

Getting hyped for ENHYPEN!

I was late coming into the world of I-LAND, only getting to it once the first round of global voting had ended for part one. And this was after I had sworn off any type of KPOP survival show since the whole MNET rigging thing that led to the disbandment of X1 at the beginning of this year. I fell deep into I-LAND, and the final line-up was revealed to us on Friday, and I have to say I am very excited with the results and even more excited for the actual debut!

I-LAND promotional photo from VIKI.

Before getting to my thoughts on the members who made it into ENHYPEN, let me say a brief few words about the final ones who were eliminated: Daniel and K. First, I am legitimately bummed out that Daniel didn’t make it in. I was rooting for him the entire show and I think he has a lot of potential. He did an amazing job doing the Save Me duet with Sunoo back during part one. I hope he is able to train more and will be able to debut someday so that he can be on stage next to the ENHYPEN members soon enough! As for K, well.. I won’t say much about him because I know he is most likely devastated and I know his fans are as well. Just from my observations of the show, I think he would be a great soloist. We’ll see where he ends up.

Now, for my thoughts on the final line-up!

From L-R: NI-KI, Sunghoon, Jake, Jungwon, Heeseung, Jay, Sunoo. via ENHYPEN Members Twitter.

Jungwon: He is really the only one I know the least about since I didn’t have him in my final line-up wish list. It’s not that I dislike him or anything like that! I’m excited to see more from him and form a better opinion. He did impress me a lot during the final episode and I 100% agree with Jungkook with what he said about Jungwon! That also must have been such a moment for Jungwon as well since JK is his role model.

Sunghoon: He 100% got me during the Fake Love unit song. That was it for me. He’s an incredible dancer and has such flow with his dance, most likely because he was a figure skater for so long. He’s the type where even when he’s not the focus, you are still drawn to him because of how well he dances. That’s really Sunghoon in a nutshell. My best example is the Flicker performance. Or just watch any of his fancams from the show. 

Jake: He improved A LOT over the course of the entire show, so I am happy he made it into the final group. It seems like an age ago, but another reason why I like him so much is because I thought he did a great job in the first ever performance on the first episode where he performed with Sunoo and Youngbin (eliminated). He’s demonstrated how dedicated he is and is a hard worker in trying to keep up and learn the routines, so he will be a powerful force in ENHYPEN.

Jay: He was the first one I really liked on the show. It was sad seeing how he wasn’t getting the parts he wanted, but he never gave up and that’s exactly what we need in a group. He showed incredible leadership throughout the show and even when I felt he was being overshadowed by some of the other trainees, he really made a huge comeback and showed his full potential and determination. He’s incredible on stage in every regard. It was like truly watching an already debuted professional.

NI-KI: I am so glad he made it. I have been rooting for him since day one. He is already a great dancer, so let’s see how he improves over time. He definitely has the potential to be an all rounder in the group. I feel that was definitely the victim of the MNET evil edit, and he did display some attitude problems near the beginning, but he really turned himself around and got into the group mentality fairly quickly after that. I think for him being so young, that is definitely a sense of how mature he has become since the show initially started.

Sunoo: What else can I even say about him? Sunoo has such a positive and bubbly aura to him, yet can completely transform himself on stage accordingly. When he performed Crown, it was like he was a member of TXT, honestly. And then, to go from that to performing Save Me and Fake Love as flawlessly as he did? He also did incredibly well in part two. He’s a fan favorite, if not the fan favorite since he was always at the top (until the final.. That’s what happens when you pity vote for others). He, along with Jake, also have the least amount of time being a trainee, so the fact that they both made it in just shows how naturally gifted these two are!

Heeseung: I knew he was going to make it as soon as I saw him. He’s already an all rounder. He has that type of aura when he’s on stage. An incredible vocalist, dancer, and leader all in one. Most importantly: he is consistent in his performance. Whenever his parts came up during a performance, you could just feel the energy and passion behind his performance no matter what he was doing. I feel like ENHYPEN is really going to thrive having him in it as the oldest member both with his experience and leadership.

ENHYPEN has monster rookie group written all over them. I believe they are expected to debut by November, or in November, so let’s support them! I’m so excited to see the concept, teasers, and what type of songs they will do. And of course, purchasing the albums and seeing whose photo card I pull. My favorites though? Definitely Heeseung and Sunoo! 

Top row L-R: Heeseung, Jay, Jake, Sunghoon. Bottom row L-R: Sunoo, Jungwon, NI-KI. Promotional photo from BELIFT.

Until then, you can find performances from I-LAND on YouTube. You can also stream a couple of the I-LAND performance songs on Apple Music and Spotify! Most importantly, follow them on Twitter (also here!) for updates as well. And here’s a list that has all their social media accounts.

No Good? More like So Good.

Jin Akanishi and Ryo Nishikido have finally released their album, No Good, this past week. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I do, yet here we are. Like my last post, this isn’t really a review.. More so just my feelings on the album overall.

N/A No Good

Released on September 9th, 2020

Official MV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIWAsD0PKNM 

Available for streaming? Yes! Apple Music, Spotify

The album opens up with your standard introduction titled, N / A Introduction. I mean, it’s an intro track. It does its job of getting you properly hyped for what’s to come. Immediately following is a track in all English, Get Loose. Honestly, when I first heard this one, I didn’t like it. It’s kind of grown on me, but the chorus kind of grates through my head.. If that’s even a proper way to describe it. It’s one of those tracks that I think solely exists to be performed live immediately following the introduction, especially going by the lyrics.

Now, we get to one of my favorite tracks which I wanted to put on my previous post, but didn’t because I can talk about it here instead. No Good. This song is CATCHY. I would have much rather had this as the album opener and just cut Get Loose completely, but what do I know? Anyway, No Good is such a feel good, good vibes type song that I have on repeat constantly without even realizing it. It just puts you in that type of mood, and I’m very thankful for that because we could all use that feeling right about now.

The next two tracks, Not Bad and Lap Dance have that mellow vibe to them. Though the title may not seem it, Lap Dance has a lot of positive vibes about wanting to have fun and live life. Hey, What’s Up? Is a song originally by Jin, which I really like. This version is more of a remix of it that adds Ryo and a band atmosphere. It’s still a good song! And I love the tweaks that were made to it and the addition of Ryo’s vocals.

Point of Departure almost acts like a type of interlude, though it arrives more than halfway through the album. It’s another song entirely in English, and discusses moving on to the new, which I think is really symbolic for Ryo since he just left J&A last year and has moved on with his solo career and this venture with Jin. Though, it’s also symbolic for Jin and his history.

Jin Akanishi and Ryo Nishikido (Barks.jp)

Kingdom is probably tied as my favorite track along with No Good. It’s just really good. The production, composition, and vocals are top tier here in my opinion. Just go listen to it. It’s amazing. I think this was the moment I realized that I actually was enjoying this album a lot. I just love songs that have that slow build up throughout the entirety of it, adding layers of vocals and instruments as it continues onward. The melody is also lovely and very catchy.

Now Eve is a more upbeat song and it sounds very… Johnny’s-esque to the point where I was trying to see if I missed something and maybe this was a re-recording of a random solo from years ago that they had the rights to, but couldn’t find anything. It’s kind of cute. Well, as cute as you can get from Ryo and Jin these days. 

Blue has that sound that seemed to be in almost every single song from a few summers ago. Maybe it was 2015-2016. That chorus where there is just a mellow EDM instrumental playing alongside a distorted and pitched voice repeatedly saying the same phrase over and over again. So, this one sounds a bit dated, but it’s still alright. It was a mellow way to end the album. There’s a bonus track called Hey Girl but I haven’t found it and it’s not on the streaming release so I’m just pretending the album ends here.

If you have a spare 30 minutes, check out this album. It’s worth a listen. Even from ex-fans. I hope they continue to make music together. Maybe they’ll do an online concert or tour whenever the pandemic goes away. This would be a fun album to see live. Until then, I’ll go catch up on their YouTube stuff.

My 3 favorite j-pop songs from the summer.

This year has completely reawakened my love for Japanese pop music, to the point where I’m listening to it so much that I feel I can actually make favorites lists for it again! So, here we are, with my top 3 favorite j-pop songs of the summer! This really isn’t a “review” type post.. More so just my feelings on the songs and why I love them so much.

Haruma Miura Night Diver

Released on August 26th, 2020

Official MV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6-IaSJLNOA 

Available for streaming? Yes!

The first thing I will say about this one is that I absolutely love Haruma’s vocals. He really shines in this and I think it effectively shows off his range and what he was capable of with his voice. Though the tempo of the song is upbeat, the lyrics are very.. Sad? Especially in relation to his death. So, while this song is at the top of my playlist, it’s also one that makes me think about a lot of things. It’s a song that seems to be about loneliness and in the translation, even talks about losing something (or someone) important. The music video is worth a watch to see Haruma’s dance performance. He did so well with conveying the emotions of the lyrics. I also loved the water effects and the various lighting and the color palette fit the tone and mood of the song as well! It was nice watching the making of documentary movie for this and seeing how it was all put together. Definitely check out the video if you can!

King & Prince Mazy Night

Released on June 10th, 2020

Official MV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aCS8d9e3nI

Available for streaming? No 😦

Update 9/15/20: Okay, maybe J&A heard me and unlocked the Mazy Night MV so it is linked above so we can all properly stream and support Kinpuri!! Hopefully this trend continues (and also that it wasn’t a mistake)!! It’s not the full MV, but it gives you an idea!

This is it. This is the song. This song has such a great slow burn during the intro verse and bridge that starts showing it’s EDM genre inspiration as it goes into the chorus. And I can’t even properly explain how much I love it. The chorus is very catchy, especially with the “cheers” (or however you want to describe it) that happens towards the end of each chorus. One thing I really love about songs like this is how they have a very loud, fun chorus and then immediately gets softer and more subtle as the verses start up again, which this does perfectly and not ending up a mess. This song also has an official music video, but sadly is region locked. If you know how to get around it, give it a watch. It’s a nice video, actually. I was impressed with Kinpuri’s dancing. I’d love to get the version that has the dance videos on it someday soon. This is definitely a song meant to be performed in a huge venue where everyone is having a good time. Maybe someday.

Tomorrow x Together Everlasting Shine

Released on August 19th, 2020

Available for streaming? Yes! Apple Music, Spotify

I think this might be one of my overall favorite releases of the entirety of 2020. The rhythm, the flow, the vocals, the production, the nostalgia it gives me everytime I listen to it is incredible. TXT is one of my favorite groups, so maybe the bias is showing a bit here, but this song really is something special. It’s very fresh. The song is for an anime, so it would sound a bit different from what they normally do, but it just suits them so well. I’d love for them to do more songs like this in the future. Maybe it’s just my small obsession with anything acoustic sounding, which is another reason why it stands out to me so much over other songs. Also, the message of the song is so hopeful. They literally say to turn your tears into hope, which I think really can be said for 2020 overall since we all need a little hope right now. So, if for some reason you aren’t listening to TXT yet, please do yourself a favor and check them out. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

There were other j-pop songs that I really enjoyed this summer, like N/A’s No Good, but spoiler alert: that’s getting its very own post that I hope to have up later tonight.

As always, thanks for reading!