Hana Yori Dango (Japan) – Series 1 Character Overview

Kicking off my Boys Over Flowers re-watch-athon-2K15 is the Japanese version first aired on TBS from October to December way back in 2005!

I first watched this online, in extremely low quality, in 10 minute chunks uphill both ways in the snow! I fell immediately in love with the offbeat, quirky humour of the series – the characters are slightly exaggerated and comic-like 4D people, but there’s still drama and pathos to be had. The main cast has great chemistry (to this day delulu shippers insist that the wedding is JUST around the corner… In a deep corner of my heart I totally join them in hoping for this) and the series does a fab job of condensing the rather extensive source material down.

Series 1 covers 9 jam-packed episodes of plot, so get this re-watch party started I have provided a brief character primer below before we jump off the cliff that is this crack-filled delight.

Needless to say there are some light spoilerssssssss ahead!

Continue reading

Kicking off the Great ‘Boys Over Flowers’ Rewatch of 2015

There’s nothing quite like setting oneself an epic challenge – and if it involves a ridiculous amount of time watching cute (though at times hateful) boys and the most trope-filled RIDICULOUS plotline to ever be committed to film (in no less than 4 different adaptations) I’m up to the task!

Can I watch the same plot over and over again? Will I throw things at my screen when *spoiler* wtf noooo OMGGGGG whyyyy is this happening!!!  <— yeah, you all know (or will know) what I’m talking about… Will I ever be rid of the AAAAAALMOOOOST PAAAAARAAAAADIIIIIIISE earworm? Only time can tell! Continue reading

Infinite – Be Back Repackage – Album and MV Review

I’m back – after a break of many moons! And there is so much kpop to talk about! I’ll have to restrain myself to albums and singles that I have actually bought (which is still like… 30 things! OMG… so many posts to make…)

I’ll kick it off with my strong contender for song of the year…

Anytime Infinite has a comeback makes me a happy fangirl, so the very moment that they announced a repackage for ‘Season 2’ I had a countdown clock in place. Not that we had to wait long at all, as this promotion followed quickly on the heels of ‘Last Romeo’. ‘Back’ is certainly my favourite song of the year so far – and that’s fending off some very stiff competition in what has been a very good year of songs and concepts from all the groups that I follow and collect.

I might be a tad biased (Infinite being my second favourite group and home to my ultimate bias Sunggyu) but this is a solid song full of the familiar Infinite sound and excellent vocals. It starts with a slow buildup, steadily moving towards the drop where the full orchestral sound kicks in and it gallops along from there. Best of all, there’s some great line distribution in this song – everyone has something – and for a 7 member group that’s pretty good! This has had heavy rotation on my i-Pod and playlists and the more I listen to it, the more that I love it.

MV Moments (Performance Version)

The initial release of the MV was the story version, which features Infinite showing up to a gang fight to rescue Sunggyu’s sister armed with questionable items (an umbrella for Sungjong… really???) and receiving a pretty thorough beat down before they rally for a final showdown. It’s fairly stylised violence, but I still find it pretty hard to watch – even though I know it’s not real. I don’t know… it just makes me uncomfortable. I also have a hard time watching similar themed MVs and tend to minimise the screen / bail entirely as soon as blood appears (see: BAP ‘One Shot’, VIXX ‘Voodo Doll’, and the MV that cannot be watched ever again ever: MYNAME ‘Baby I’m Sorry’). Death and violence just aren’t my jam. So although I absolutely ADORED the song and watched every single live performance, I only watched the actual MV about 3 or 4 times. I can only watch Sunggyu being beaten in the head with a baseball bat so many times…

So it was a great relief when Woolim released the ‘Performance Version’ aka the version that focuses on the dance. Infinite has impeccable choreography as always – but it can be hard to focus on it for live stages and even in MV versions because of the camera cuts. It’s a real feat to be able to pull off a 7 member dance that has knife-like precision and is also interesting to watch.

Mirror Dance
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I really love the mirrored movements in the opening here – it’s clever as well as visually striking! Of course I’ve decided to focus on my ultimate bias here (who is looking FINE)

Can You Save Me?
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As the song picks up the pace, the dance also pulls the members into formation. I like how they all circle each other slightly too.

Back Back Back Back Back
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Body rolls… always a fave! This one is subtle (if you can call a body roll subtle) but I love it! The second one is more obvious, but I like the focus on L here 😀

Knife Dancing
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Infinite are known for their precision and this dance is no exception. It’s an odd mixture of fast and slow, but the high energy points are really great!

Dongwoo Sings!
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Normally part of the rap-line, Dongwoo has a vocal part and he nails it! (My squee was heard from miles away when we first listened to this)

제발 (Please)
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Not only do I love this dance move, but it’s a whole line for Sungyeol!

돌아와줘(Please Come Back)
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As we reach the climax of the song, the line formation here really looks great!

I Say Save Me
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And it ends perfectly as well!

Album Review

One thing that I have LOVED about Infinite’s albums this year for both Korea and Japan is how consistent they have been with their branding and packaging carrying across several years of albums and mini-albums. ‘Season 2’ was an exact mirror of their first album, with the same style slip cover and format. And now ‘Be Back’, the repackage, is also a mirror of the first album’s repackage ‘Paradise’ with the same envelope style casing! It’s a small detail, but the print nerd in me loves it!

My version of the album also came with 2 x posters. I have to laugh, because that makes 5 posters for this round of promotions and I can’t even choose which one to display – I may just have to rotate them in and out as the mood grabs me. There can never be enough Infinite on my walls!

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The outer packaging is printed on silver card with an emboss and spot UV highlight, die cut and folded into an envelope. It’s a clever way to make everything look like a present that you can unwrap. The image on the front is also version A of the poster (possibly my fave version). This is also a pretty big album! It takes up some serious shelf real estate when on display.

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Once unfolded, you have the CD mounted and recessed into black foam-core (I really love that they have the logo on EVERYTHING as well – sidenote, Infinite do an iteration of their logo for every album and I quite like this one – it’s a bit more feminine which works well with the ongoing ‘Last Romeo’ theme). Instead of a photocard, you get a giant postcard (random member) printed in colour on the same silver card as the outer packaging. Yay Woohyun! And in this first press edition, 2 x photobooks.

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The Special Edition photobook is full of candid behind-the-scenes photos from the ‘Back’ MV shoot. Lots of great photos and the paper is a good weight (not cheap feeling).

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The standard photobook is also great – the paper is a pearlised finish, so it gives the photos a slightly dreamy quality. Fans of the group will appreciate the many pages in both books – the repackage is significantly different enough from the original album to justify having both in your collection.

The repackage album has the same tracks as ‘Season 2’ but with the extra songs ‘Back’ and ‘Diamond’. Because it’s such a pretty looking album, this is my current facing outward on display showpiece for Infinite. I was super happy with this purchase and with the whole promotion cycle.

‘I want you back back back back back’

And as a bonus – the amazing dance practice video! The choreography for this dance was, as I mentioned, thoroughly ON POINT. Though Sunggyu obviously did not get the memo about wearing tight pants…

July Kpop Additions

So, I added a whole heap to my collection in July – blame the perfect storm of a lot of releases in both Japan and Korea, some items that FINALLY arrived from June, and my birthday allowing me to indulge…

Somehow it adds up to like 21 things – no wonder my shelves are in crisis mode and I’m living on potatoes!

Japan Albums

(which continue to bankrupt me because I can’t stay away from them and they aren’t cheap compared to Korean albums AT ALL)

Infinite – Last Romeo – Type A and Standard First Press Editions (single)

VIXX – Darkest Angels – Version A (album)

SHINee – Lucky Star – First Press Limited and Standard Editions (single)

I got all 3 versions of Infinite both versions of SHINee and restrained myself to only one of VIXX and covered these in a previous post. Basically they are all amazing OMG!

BTS – Boy in Luv – Standard Edition (single)

BTS have really put in an effort for their Japanese market this year, releasing all of their Korean hits as singles. I collect this group, so this was an auto buy for me. I decided on the standard edition because I wanted a photocard! Their record company releases the full PV on youtube, so I didn’t feel the need to get the DVD version. Again this is a standard CD with lyrics sheet insert – nothing too exciting so essentially it’s a big excuse to get a photocard.

The CD has 3 singles from their latest Korean album – “Boy in Luv” “N.O” and “Just One Day”. Their Japanese is pretty cute, not awful but a bit shaky in some spots. I’m hoping that at some point they will release some original songs in Japan *crosses fingers*

UKISS – Love on U – CD/DVD combo (single)

Congrats U-KISS! I finally cracked and ordered a Japan single… This is of course inviting disaster, because now I’ll feel the need to collect the rest of them and I had resisted so well up until now! I justified it because:

1) I really liked the song (yay all the Kevin and Soohyun!)
2) Jun.. and I can totes collect everything post Jun right?
3) I knew the behind the scenes video would be AMAZING

The CD has the single “Love on U” and B Side “Feel It” both of which I liked a lot. UKISS are in my top 5 for a reason! They both have an R&B feel and have gone on my Japan playlist. Alas no photocard or photobook – just a lyrics sheet insert.

The DVD has the full PV (hooray! Avex are sucky and only ever upload short versions to YouTube) as well as the AMAZING behind the scenes video. Ahhhh so many Jun feels! The boys have about the same level of Japanese that I do (ie. basic and high school level) so I had no problems understanding everything. Not that you really need subs to enjoy the ridiculous amount of cute…

Boyfriend – Start Up – CD/DVD Version A First Press Limited (single)

Ugh… so much cute! I officially locked in these boys at #9 in my top 1o this month (waaaah only one more slot free, and I need to TARDIS, like, at least 30 groups into it). This was a really cute PV – which I made many gifs from! Clearly the single was also on my buy list.

This comes with a super cute mini photobook with lyrics as well as a CD sized postcard. I got Hot Boyfriend Leader Donghyun! Yay! I have a few of his postcards now. The single “Start Up” and B side “DO-DO-DO” are both bright happy j-pop songs and quite typical of Boyfriend’s Japan discography

Boyfriend – Seventh Color – CD/DVD Limited Edition (album)

And I was very good and bought only one version of this! Which was hard as they all had slightly different bonus tracks and photobooks too! I shall covet Aimee’s extra HMV version when I visit next month. I loved the title track “Here” from this – the short version was released almost a month ahead of the album, so I had plenty of time to anticipate it. Ahhhh so many cute moments in the PV as well! (all the GIFs!)

This is a CD sized release with a slipcover. The photobooklet is SUPER adorable as well with lots of cute pics. I got Minwoo as my postcard (cute maknae of cuteness) as well as Donghyun as a magnet from HMV (OMG I want like all 6 of them SO BADLY). Being a full album there are a lot of tracks to cover! Boyfriend also release completely original songs in Japan, so it’s extra impressive that they are promoting two almost polar opposite concepts at the same time in two different countries. My crush on Donghyun continues apace (I looooove his vocals!), so it’s hard to choose a favourite track. They’re all cute and bright pop songs though.

Next year I am determined to go to a concert for this group – preferably in Japan so I can really go to town and fit in with the crying fangirls.

Korean Albums

BAP – Unplugged (mini album)

Yay! It finally came! (mostly because I bundled it with other Kpop released much later). The poster is also adorable, so I need to find room for it somewhere. This had a gorgeous photobook – it’s styled a bit like a photo album with “polaroids” from a trip to London – all with a completely hipster instagram filter applied to them! I got a Zelo photocard and died from happiness (my bias!)

I liked this MV and single. It’s certainly a departure from their better known style, but it was a lot of fun. And all that cute aegyo didn’t make me completely fall in love with it immediately or anything like that…

Bigflo – First Flow (mini album)

I broke my Rookies rule – and it was the best decision ever

JJCC (Double JC) At First – Signed edition all members (single)

More Rookies! But technically a present (Thanks Aimee!!) I liked this debut a lot, it’s a great laid back track and has had a fair bit of play on my 2014 playlist. I have side-eyed a few of the member names (Simba… Prince Mak…) but I am sure that they will grow on me. They have a fair bit of potential as they are backed by Jackie Chan, so I look forward to their follow up (hopefully soon)

Eric Nam – Ooh Ooh – signed edition (single)

Another one that FINALLY arrived. I love Eric a lot – probably because we watch his show ASC every week and he’s such a great host. He and Kevin (from UKISS) have a great bromance going! Apart from that, the track is super cute and catchy and definitely fun to dance along to! It has a great brass big band swing feel and has an ear worm chorus as well.

We got this one as an MNet Meet and Greet. Eric read my message out and made my day! Aimee fared even better and got like a whole conversation as a reply to her ‘Come to Australia please!’ comment.

The single has a mini photobook with cute pics and also came with a photo postcard.

Beast – Good Luck – Version A and B (mini album)

Sooooo don’t judge that I got both of these… One was a birthday present! Technically this is the same album, just both versions. However they are COMPLETELY different, in fact they open in opposite directions – a small detail that I really appreciated. Both photobooks are HUGE and filled with pics from their dual photoshoot concepts. I finally had a photocard double up with Hyunseung in both albums, but have since traded one for Hot Leader Doojoon.

As with all Beast albums, it’s really beautifully presented and constructed. My inner print nerd had a lot of fun going through it all. I might slightly prefer the black version, despite my bias having some decidedly derp photos!

I really loved all the tracks on this mini album (well done to Junhyung with the composing and lyrics) but best of all they included “Sad Movie” as a Korean release! I nearly cried when they performed it as their goodbye stage on all the shows because it’s one of my most favourite of their Japan tracks.

MBLAQ – Broken – signed edition all members (mini album)

This took AGES to get here. But I finally have my super hot MBLAQ boys! Hooray! There’s a lot of eye candy in this photobook. I have a bit of a thing for suited up hotness and this comeback is definitely in my Top 10 so far this year. Joon was my photocard (more cheering! yay my bias!!)

The album also takes up a fair bit of shelf real estate – being gigantic OMG. I had to spine all of their other albums and shift Ajax to another shelf to fit this in. But saying that it’s also a nicely presented album with a box case, perspex CD plate and perfect bound photobook. Bonus Joonie evison advert insert – abs are always appreciated!!

I liked all the tracks on the CD too – it’s a really great album to put on in the background if I have work to do. I feel like they have really matured vocally – and the added hotness for this comeback was a bonus. (Seungho, you really levelled up! Well done!)

History – Desire (mini album)

I have already expressed my adoration for the title track “Psycho” MV. The album is also a great addition to my collection as I love me a box style case! It’s also huge, but I forgive that because they included such a great photobook. I really appreciate that they took the styling and the concept to the nth degree here. There’s some really clever photos here that have a decidedly unhinged and obsessive feel to them. Yijeong has this great photo where it has been scratched out in a spiralling pattern around his eye *shivers*

The songs are also great – all centered around ‘Desire’ I really like 태양은 없다 (There’s No Sun) and Blue Moon. This group have really fantastic vocals and I pretty much added the entire album to my faves list.

Boyfriend  – Obsession – Signed Edition Hyunseong (mini album)

Soooo lots of Boyfriend this month! This time their Korean comeback which it feels like I was waiting FOREVER for. We got 2 MVs and dance practices out of this mini album and a bajillion amazing live stages, so I was a very happy fangirl.

This mini album is a nice addition to my now extensive Boyfriend shelf. It’s the standard mini-album configuration with the photobook affixed to the inner left and the CD on the right, no photocard but a group postcard was included. I’m not a huge fan of the hip hop styling in the photobook, but I will console myself with the Hot Boyfriend Leader implied abs on page 5.

I did love this comeback though. It’s a slight change in direction vocally for them and I’m not at all opposed to them growing and changing as a group. My fave track was ‘Alarm’ which I just adore.

VIXX – VIXX box (DVD and goods)

Damn you VIXX! *shakes fist* Thank goodness it was my birthday otherwise I really could not have justified buying this! I’m glad that I did though, because it was crammed with all sorts of goodies that a hardcore fan of the group (like me!) will really adore.

  • Pin Set – that will never come out of the wrapper LOL like all my other pin sets
  • Photocards – too big for my holders, will have to work on a solution to this
  • Giant Postcards – soooo many – where will I put them all???
  • Diary Planner with stickers – can be adapted to any year. Not sure if I will use this as I plan on getting more end of year calendars which also come with planners but I love all the cute pics!
  • DVD

I love how it’s all put together as well – the box has some neat compartments. I’m a bit of a bad fangirl and haven’t watched the DVD yet – I have this MASSIVE backlog of Dramas and cute reality shows to get through first!

VIXX – Voodoo DVD set (DVD and goods)

This was bundled with the VIXX box and as I had neglected to buy it when it first came out (and regretted it) I was pretty happy to be able to add this without significantly breaking the bank.

This came with some postcards and has a fab additional photobook as well. The DVD is also in my ‘to be watched’ queue!

My Updated Current Stats! *shame*

Albums – 270
DVD Concerts etc– 18
Photobooks and Other – 9
Posters – 127
Photocards – too many… (LIES! there is no such thing as too many)

Henry – Fantastic – MV Review

Henry Lau is back again with a new mini album and MV titled ‘Fantastic’. I absolutely loved his solo debut last year, so this was a comeback that I had been anticipating – especially since he did SO MUCH trolling and teasing on all of his social media in the months leading up to the actual announcement of a date and time for the MV.

Being the maknae of Super Junior M, he’s already pretty high up my Suju bias list, and all of his appearances this year on variety shows have cemented him even further as one of my favourites. He’s definitely grown as a solo artist, however I do feel that SM haven’t given him anything particularly special to work with for this MV that would really elevate him as a star to watch.

That said, I did enjoy this MV and I also like the song. The violin adds a different feel – especially as he plays it himself and the chorus is quite catchy too. It’s not a song I skip when it comes up on my i-pod, that’s for sure!

The other songs on the mini album are also fun to listen to – featuring cameos from Chanyeol (EXO), Hoya (Infinite) and Seulgi (SM Rookies). I see what you did there SM… It does come across that they feel the need to shoehorn in other artists to support Henry, but I won’t complain too much as they add some additional colour and match well with Henry too.

Of course I ordered the album, and it will come at the end of the month with my other July KPop – with a bonus poster yay! I also hear that there is a photocard included too!

MV Moments that I appreciated

SM Love Their Maze Sets

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Kekekeke! I had a slight concerned frown here as I was thinking… wait… is this the EXO set recycled? I’ll put it down to a thematic coincidence and not just SM cheaping out. I do like the transition from the moody B&W noir feel here in the intro, to the colour of the song. The way the red bleeds / seeps into the frame is done well – it is totally in keeping with the ‘giving life through music’ storyline.

The Violin of “Destiny”

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Did JJ Abrams direct this MV? So many lens flares! Henry is rather talented, playing piano and violin (a modern renaissance man!) so I’m pleased to see him showcasing that here. Sure, this is a little bit cliched to have the violin create his dream woman – but at least there is a plot of some sort! I am a bit squicked by all the tubes – I have the same kind of feeling about Beast’s ‘Shock’. It’s just somehow unnerving to me.

Henry Does This…

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Straight to my ‘crotch dancing’ playlist! Actually titled “Calling Attention to Packages – aka blatant crotch dancing” (39 videos and counting as I work my way back through all the kpop). It’s almost a body roll too! The choreography in this MV is great to watch, it hits all the beats and also has a few set pieces that are quite clever.

Let Me Show You My Co-ordination Skills

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I am aware that he doesn’t actually do this ‘live’ during his stage performances – but you do have to admit that it looks pretty amazing fantastic!

Smile For the Camera!

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Henry is super cute as it is (and Emily’s ultimate bias), but I do love that he really looks like he’s having a lot of fun here. K-Pop is full of MVs that include the cute camera staredown – it’s a way to engage directly with the viewer (and let’s face it, I can’t resist it either). Henry is just the right amount of flirtatious and cheeky.

A Box Set That Actually Works

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SM love their box sets – but this one has a great detail! I love that it’s actually the ‘inside’ of the violin. If the camera swooping in didn’t clue you in at the beginning of the sequence, the cut-outs in the ceiling should. I especially like how this affects the lighting, causing a spotlight on Henry. This is actually pretty clever, so I give some applause to the set designer for this creative take on the typical box.

All the Henrys

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This was an interesting visual choice by the PD and set designer. For me, this kind of display of monitors reads as a dystopia – think Terry Gilliam’s ‘Brazil’ or Big Brother from ‘1984’. It has overtones of surveillance and control and the focus on multiple angles of Henry does nothing to dispel this reading. My take on the plot is that he uses the futuristic technology to channel the energy of his music into creating his perfect girl. This set, to me, makes this act come across as something that is either forbidden or dangerous, it’s kind of odd, because SM aren’t really known for making their MVs make sense at all. Ehhhh I’m probably reading too much into it…

Henry Makes / Gets His Girl

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The CG here is SUPER cheesy – but I still like it. And yay! A positive ending for an MV!

Watch the MV below – and don’t forget to check out some of the live stages – they’re pretty fun to watch as well!

It’s gonna be fantastic!

B1A4 – Solo Day MV

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B1A4 ‘Solo Day’ MV – Gif Set

And the cute MVs just keep coming!

Watching this really makes me wish it was summer and I had some cute boys to go alien chasing with.

B1A4 are back again after only 6 months with a fun and cute new MV and mini album. As always, it’s very much in their quirky style with bright colours, a great story and a catchy tune (with some dubious English thrown in, but it wouldn’t be B1A4 if it made actual sense!)

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Hahaha I had to scroll SO FAR BACK in our Kakao chat to find this exchange… how do we manage to send so many messages a day? (lol all kpop related too).

I love all of the elements in this MV – it’s great to see a group get out of the ubiquitous ‘box set’ and tell a story. It’s definitely different and bears repeated viewing so that you can catch all of the small details – especially in the signs and backgrounds.

This MV went on so many of our random playlists… (pink hair, beach, cute head bobbing, big round spinny things, random shopping trolley, nanana/lalalala, video game, glasses, doggies, stripey shirts, party – alas that the car was not actually a useless car…)  Well done B1A4! We should totally make that whistling playlist now, right?

How cute is Baro with his detecting gear and his utter glee at actually coming across the aliens! I also adore Gongchan and the dog (may have squealed a bit because it was so adorable).

Jinyoung did an amazing job composing this! I can appreciate his talent as a songwriter here as this is so much fun to sing along to.

I’m hoping we’ll get a dance practice at some point too – as the live stages are unbearably cute to watch!

Solo solo day solo solo day girl

100% – U Beauty – MV Review

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100% “U Beauty” MV Gif Set

It’s the cute flower boys of summer!

100% are back again with a 180 degree shift in concept. Their last mini album “Bang the Bush” and MV ‘Beat’ featured loads of vampire / frankenstein imagery (plus abs – yay! and lots of rather hot stage outfits featuring leather). ‘U Beauty’ is ALL about being adorable and piling on the aegyo. I’m not complaining though, as I love and adore cute concepts – especially cute concepts with colourful hair!

There’s a glut of adorable MVs out at the moment – which are all celebrating the northern hemisphere summer (as I type this, there’s a thunderstorm outside and I have my electric blanket dialed up to “3”). This MV isn’t anything super different, but it’s fun to watch and the song is very catchy! 100% have gone for a fresh and cute idol concept as they sing to a pretty girl (and slightly stalk her in the locker room).

100% are currently promoting as a team of 5. Their very attractive leader Minwoo is in the army and the maknae Sanghoon is on a break as he decides what he wants to do. Rokhyun has taken over leadership duties and is currently making himself my bias because he’s just too sweet. These boys are label mates with Teen Top with Top Media (yay!) and it’s fantastic to see them promoting back to back. They’re very underrated as a group and I’m hoping that they’ll continue to build their fanbase and popularity so we can see more of them!

I love the vocal line in this group – they are all talented singers and this is a light summery song with a good hook line ‘니가 예쁘다’ (niga yeppeuda) which will worm its way into your brain and have you singing along. I like the brass elements too – overall the song is bright and cheerful and has a fun rap chorus too.

I have to mention the colourful hair too! Jonghwan is blue, Rokhyun blond, Changbum pink, Chanyong is orange and Hyukjin escaped the stylist this time!

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I also appreciate the choreography – it fits well with the song, and has some pretty well executed moves that put their athleticism and flexibility to the test! I like that there are some jazz ballet moves too!  The live stages have been a real treat to watch so far as well with their strong vocals coming across.

I have ordered the mini album ‘Sunkiss’ from MNet (as they’re doing a signed meet and greet) The promo pictures were adorable giving me hope that the photobook will be full of boys with flowers. (just like CN Blue’s ‘Can’t Stop’). I’ll have to go back and get their first 2 mini albums now… and to think I mercilessly teased Aimee when she bought them in Korea…

I have embedded the original and dance version MVs below (The dance version is my favourite because it’s really good!) and if you have time you should also check out the acoustic piano version because it’s AMAZING! All the harmonies!! *melts* These boys are so talented!

You’re the one and only