Reviewing all of Loona (이달의 소녀), Part 4 – “12:00” and “&” (Finale)

This is the 4th and final part of my complete review of all musical output from Loona. The last part ended with the “#” mini album, so we will start this part with “12:00”, go to “&”, and end with some smaller recent activities. This part will be very extensive, so strap on for one final deep dive into Loona’s discography.

For the other parts, please refer to this list:
Part 1 – Loona 1/3
Part 2 – Loona Odd Eye Circle and yyxy
Part 3 – From [+ +] to #

Loona – 12:00, Mini Album

1. 12:00

I don’t know what the deal is with the police-style transmission stuff, but I don’t mind the instrumental. 6/10

2. Why Not?

I said in my review to “So What?” that I hate how Heejin now needs to be the girl pressing her voice trying to sound cool, saying things like “I’m a bad girl”, looking into the camera, probably trying to look “fierce”, although she comes across more like she has a stroke. As soon as Heejin’s terrible weird half-rap part is done (and Choerry’s rather irrelevant part too), I actually start liking it. Heejin gets another two lines before the chorus hits, and they are nice, so I don’t know why they can’t just let her sing normally, as that sounds so much better. Also, they could’ve done anything else but this “Wo, wo, wo, wo” before the drop. That not good at all. But then, the chorus finally comes and I really, really like it. The energy it comes with gets perpetuated in the following Heejin/Hyunjin part, which sounds good as well. I do not like Olivia’s part, though, or at least the last few words said in English. We get the “I’m a bad girl” stuff again, just with Jinsoul this time who does not sound any better, and then Heejin tries her best to press her voice and make me wince even more than she has done before. Chuu hollers a bit, that’s always a plus. The last minute, with no shitty rap parts or anything, just the amazing instrumental doing its thing, is the highlight of the song. Talking about the video, it’s a mixture of shots I quite like, and shots of the girls trying to look intimidating, the worst offenders here being Heejin and Yves. There are also some random foreigners dancing in the second chorus? I don’t know what they are doing there, every one only gets like a second of airtime, whereas they have been a more “integral” part of the video in “Butterfly”. This song is a double-edged sword for me, really. The terrible “So What?” influence is undeniable, but at least we get quite a lot of good parts, and basically everything after the second verse is pretty fucking nice. I do actually actively listen to it from time to time, although I really need to be in the mood for it. 7/10

3. 목소리 (Voice)

This is not the release found on the official channel, but a special MV where the girls lipsync to the song in the Christmas dresses from the special that I will mention again after this album. They all look great in the video and their smiles only look half-forced. I will talk about it more when we come to the Christmas special itself. For now, let’s talk about the track. This song is absolutely amazing. From the production to the writing (and lyrics), to the fact that there is no dumb rap break, but a concise bridge with just the beat, everything about this song is absolutely amazing. I do not have the musical background knowledge to really say why, I don’t know what the fuck the instruments or noises used in the instrumental are named, all I can tell you is that I love everything, and I mean everything about this song. I will give this a 10 and talk more about it when we come to the English version of this song later on. 10/10

4. 기억해 (Fall Again)

It’s the type of music that would play in Korean restaurants here in Germany, made to not be insulting, just a slow, coffee-shop-esque ballad with a bit more tune to it than just piano and violins. I will never listen to it ever again, but if it plays anywhere I won’t be offended. 5/10

5. Universe

Another amazing track with no rap part, but insultingly little Gowon. She literally has one line in this, almost criminal actually since I think this sort of song would fit her beautifully. Gowon had the first line in the second chorus, and after this one line it changes  to Hyunjin. If you check in the first chorus, you see that Jinsoul did both lines together, so there is not really any excuse for why they gave her this little time. But yeah, this song is great, it almost has some sort of mystical, ethereal feeling to it, it is dreamy with great “faded out” sounding production, and sort of emotional lyrics too. Besides Gowon not being in there enough, really the only negative thing I can fault it with is that “It’s almost miracle” is grammatically wrong, which is weird considering I don’t remember any grammatical mistakes in previous English tracks. Anyways, really good. 9/10

6. 숨바꼭질 (Hide & Seek)

Contrary to most of Loona’s discography, the rap parts outshines the rest in this one. The “I like it like that” refrain is just kind of annoying and really weak in comparison to what I would have hoped for with a built up like this. That’s not to say that the rap is faultless, but it’s really not bad. Overall, it’s quite mediocre. 6/10

7. OOPS!

Just from the title, I expected a bubbly, Chuu-heavy girly pop song about how the girls fell in love and describe it as an “accident” of some sort. It would go something like “OOPS! 너와 사랑에 빠졌었어, 너에 대한 생각 멈출 수 없다!” (“OOPS! I fell in love with you and now I can’t stop thinking about you!”) or something similar to this. Everyone knows this kind of happy-go-lucky love song. We would have a fairly chippy production, something clinking around in the background, but it would carry a lot of energy and Chuu would sing away like she did in “Heart Attack”. There would be a rap part from Yeojin and Gowon expressing their emotions, but in a clumsy feeling way, almost sounding like they are pouting all throughout. There might be Olivia and Jinsoul trying to say how they might seem tough but only do that to not be all too obvious with their emotions. In the bridge, we would have Hyunjin and Heejin expressing their hopes that their crush reciprocates their feelings with calm voices, before Chuu slaps the silence away again. We didn’t really get that. What we got is “SWIPE” from Itzy, and literally just that. 5/10

8. Star

So, “Star”, the English version of “목소리” from before, is unsurprisingly a perfect 10 as well. Usually, English versions of K-pop songs are not very good, just because they are filled with random phrases or incredibly shallow lyrics that say absolutely nothing. “Star”, however, has lyrics with quite a lot of meaning to it. You can actually think about these lyrics, interpret and relate to them. This was so much of a shock to me that I still rather listen to the English version because of that feeling of amazement. Also, this couldn’t have been all too easy since they needed to keep the flow the exact same as in 목소리, and also understand it to not make the English sentences sound strange (like they sometimes did in the English version of “Loonatic”, for example). I just want to mention how beautiful the video is, too. It fits the mood of the song perfectly, and of course I need to mention how gorgeous Gowon looks in this. Blue-haired Gowon was absolutely mesmerising, and we get to see a lot of her in this video. There’s not that much I can say other than how much I love it, especially in conjuncture with the video. I still listen to it regularly, and I enjoy every single second of it every time. Of course this, as well, is a 10/10.

This album, luckily, proved to me that Loona will not be stuck in this “I’m a bad girl” schtick, and that they are more than capable of making great albums as a whole. Of course, we have two rather forgettable tracks on here as well, but “Star” (or “목소리”) and “Universe” are all really good, and even outshine the title track for me, which is still also decent itself. I like this album a lot.

Loona – All I Want For Christmas Is You

Listen, we all know the song, we all know that this song is perfect for Christmas and only Christmas, and we know how it will sound like since no one would dare altering it in any way. The relevant thing about this cover is how exceptionally good the members all look. Gowon, Olivia and Heejin (in that order) look the best, that’s all I am going to say about it. But what I also want to mention is that Gowon got lines. This is fanservice, and it is really good fanservice. Do you remember my assessment of “One” from Loona yyxy’s mini album promotion? Same thing, really. kino/10

Gowon, Choerry, Yeojin, Kim Lip & Cocomong – 얌얌 (Yum-Yum)

Weirdly addicting. Kim Lip hates her life, Gowon and Choerry look great and Yeojin is the only one that seems to really enjoy herself. good meme/10

Loona – &, Mini Album

1. &

Suits the style of PTT perfectly, but is a bit messy, just a it too much going on. 5/10

2. PTT (Paint The Town)

What this is first and foremost is just kind of random. I don’t know what they mean when they are telling me that they are going to “paint the town”, but they surely want to “put on a show”, and I really shouldn’t “mess with [them]”, they are howling “like a wolf to the moon” after all, but they are most of all “devilous”, and certainly “curious”. Anyway, “never ever think twice” when you “won’t stop until the sun goes up”. And what exactly is “east of Eden”, and why won’t they go there? Are they Christian? Since when is the Loonaverse utilizing biblical literalism? Does that mean the biblical God, Jesus and so on are canon in the Loonaverse? Is Heejin Yahweh? Anyway, outside of the lyrics not being very coherent or making any sense whatsoever, at least we don’t have any “I’m a bad girl” stuff in this one. The song itself is powerful and riveting, the drums sound almost primal, the instrumental as a whole is just so exciting. The song really is quite nice, but I do have some problems with it: First is the obvious “Gowon only says “Uhu” twice and then has to share a terrible bridge with Vivi” which is basically unforgivable, and the second thing is that the refrain is kind of trash. Lata-tata-tata-tatata is really not what I would call a good hook for a chorus, especially if there are so many doubles on it. It sounds very messy, and doesn’t catch me at all. The part where Olivia Hye sings “We take it to the moon” is the real hook for me here because the…the…”tooting” (I have no idea how to label this properly) sounds great. Sadly, this doesn’t make the actual chorus go away. The verses are more or less good. I certainly like some girls’ contributions more than others’ (Yeojin’s part for example sounds great, but Jinsoul telling me that I shouldn’t mess with her is a tad bit cringy). The video is a mixture of nostalgia over some old outfits, not so good looking shots (especially the red stage in the first chorus doesn’t look very nice at all), and a whole lot of great visuals outside of that (Olivia in wolf-attire behind flames, the group dancing on sand, Chuu in a strong blaze surrounded by flower petals,…). The song (and video) is full of nice ideas, a great fucking production, but just lacks something coherent like an actual chorus to bind it all together and make it really memorable. 7/10

3. WOW

This track was made for Chuu to spread some good vibes, that much is clear. Insanely catchy, full of energy. The rap part is quite subpar, but not insultingly so, and also just short enough to not even really matter. There’s not a lot to say about this song, it’s a fun title, maybe not the most unique in what it does, and it doesn’t even have a “theme” of any kind, really, but good still. A mindless, happy, entertaining, catchy anthem to listen to on a good day. 8/10

4. Be Honest

Other than “WOW”, this does have a theme. It’s the first song of the album to really be about anything. As you can gather from the title, it’s about daring the one you’re interested in to just honestly say out loud what his feelings are. It’s groovy, has actually good rap lines, and Gowon got memorable lines too! What is there not to like? Quirky, upbeat, fun little song. I am only contemplating if I like it or “WOW” more, really. I think just because “Be Honest” has actual lyrical content and is more interesting musically, I would usually prefer it, although I do listen to both on a regular basis. “WOW” is catchier, “Be Honest” more interesting. Both are great, though. 8/10

5. Dance On My Own

Loona have mastered English tracks by now. “Star”, “Universe”, and now “Dance On My Own”, all amazing English songs from the more recent portion of their discography. To remind you: I gave “Universe” a 9 and “Star” a 10/10. I absolutely love both of these songs, especially my rambling about “Star” during the last album should have made that clear. However, I like “Dance On My Own” even more than both of the aforementioned ones. The reason is probably that these lyrics are just so… unexpectedly hard hitting and good for a K-pop song. Obviously, there have been a lot of break up or “I don’t need you anymore” songs in the genre, and Loona have done their fair share of those as well, but this… “I don’t wanna be somebody who lets somebody hold me if they hold me back”, “I don’t need someone to feel something “, “Gonna make a little room for my mental health”. This sounds like actual, real experiences of a breakup, of interpersonal struggles, and the break with what has been in the past in a healthy way, a way that allows you to develop self-sufficiency, even explicitly referencing focusing on ones’ mental health, as shown above. And all of this in a mixture of kind of poetic wordplay and blunt expressions of disappointment and frustration with the person in question, and it still leaves things reasonably unclear – Many people that have struggled with interpersonal relations, me included, can relate to this. And it doesn’t even need to be solely interpreted to be about a romantic relationship either, it can just be about a (former) close friend, maybe a family member. It is really well written, I think. The song is quite short, too: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, short bridge, short final chorus, just over 2½ minutes overall. Nothing here feels out of place, nothing feels unnecessary, there is nothing obstructing the mood of the song, no rap, no beat drop, nothing of the sort. The production is still great, especially the what I can only describe as “hart hitting” drums (bass? whatever, I don’t really know music words) that set in in the middle of the first verse. They sing with emotions, they make you feel like they are telling you their own story. It is just so beautiful. I have listened to this song a lot on walks at night, all alone in a forest close to where I live. This song has accompanied me when I needed to take some time off and think about things. This is most probably my favourite Loona track, definitely one of, if not my favourite K-pop song and also definitely one of my favourite songs in general. I have only positive things to say about it. It is of course a 10/10.

6. A Different Night

This album had one nice, two amazing and one absolutely perfect song up until now. Now there’s a forgettable ballad. I cannot stand it when songs sound basically the same through all of their track length. It is a weak, uninspiring song that sounds like every other ballad in existence. I appreciate the Gowon in the beginning though. 4/10

7. U R

Again, I appreciate the Gowon lines this time right at the start. The verses generally are maybe a bit boring, but passable as they are. The “hook” line “U R a star’ sounds kind of shit though. I don’t know why, but I really don’t like it. Maybe because they all pronounce it so strangely? What I do like is that Gowon got even more lines in the first chorus. I don’t know who decided to do that, but he or she should also decide who gets lines in the title tracks. The song drags on a bit and the only thing that really changes over its course is that the chorus gets sung with higher notes, but that only means that the “U R a star” line gets even less palatable to me. Watch the video on YouTube, click on a random part in the timeline – this is how the whole thing will sound. It’s just boring, because it just doesn’t really do anything. As it goes on, it get less and less entertaining and I just end up being intensely uninterested. I am very much appreciative about Gowon getting lines, but hopefully she can get lines in a good song next time. 2/10

I will do what I do best and bend rules so that I get the conclusion that I like most. I will overlook “A Different Night” and “U R” and say that this is basically a perfect album. These two songs have no business to be on this album, right after one of my absolute favourite song and three good to really good ones. This is without a doubt my favourite Loona album, and I listen to many of these songs regularly. I am not really someone who buys physical albums (because byuing what is basically just pictures of pretty Korean girls feels weird and I don’t really know what to do with them), but I did buy some of the Loona albums: “Gowon” (obviously), “Choerry”, “Chuu”, “beauty&thebeat” and of course “&”. The songs on these albums make me happy, and looking through the foto book does as well. I am a very grumpy person and constantly defend that the whole K-pop industry is an exploitative machine aiming at the most vulnerable in the Korean society (both fans and artists), and that most of the genre is complete garbage, but I can’t be very grumpy here because I just genuinely enjoy a lot of the music from Loona.

There are still some smaller activities left, and we will conclude this review by looking at these:

Heejin, Kim Lip, Jinsoul, Yves – Not Friends, Single

I will not link all the remixes that are on the single as well, since I would say the exact same thing about all of them: They sound like ass. But the original is actually quite enjoyable, I think. I shouldn’t really like the refrain since I hate that it’s so “weak” and nothing rhymes, but it grew on me ever since it came out and I find myself coming back to it more than I would be comfortable to publicly admit. The video is confusing, and I do not know what exactly is happening and why all of them are trying to kill each other (especially why white dress Heejin wants to kill red dress Heejin), but hey – Heejin looks fantastic, and that’s something. I kind of feel this song is now just engrained in my memory because I first listened to it when I was at Seoul Station for the first time.

It was in a quite warm evening, and I was just getting some groceries from Lotte Market which is located right in the “greater Seoul Station building” so to speak. As I was walking out, I realized that is was already getting dark, and I saw a bridge close by that had some blue neon lights lit up. I later learned that this bridge is called 서울로 7017 (Seoul Street 7017). As you can see in the pictures below, the atmosphere is quite something. I was instantly hooked and often went back there to take walks at night. It is still one of my favourite places in Seoul just because of this. When I am there (at night), it is quiet and rather tranquil, even. It is right above a busy main street, though, and Seoul Station and an amalgamation of train tracks is just a few dozen meters away and easily overseen from up there. The absolute beauty of the blue lights is magnificent. Still, there are lights from big skyscrapers in the distance wherever you look.

The whole street is filled with hundreds of different plants, bushes, and trees. It is basically a botanical garden if you will. The green roof you can see on the right is the Seoul Station building.

I listened to “We’re Not Friends” for the first time walking to, up, and on this bridge. The whole mood of the song fit so, so well to this nightly walk that I still think of this song when I see pictures I made on Seoul Street 7017, and still think of this evening when I listen to the song. So, I cannot really talk about this song itself, and whether or not I think it is a good song, it is mostly a sentimental piece of memory to me. Thusly, I like it a lot, although I know it is not a perfect song by any means. 7017/10

Gowon, Choerry, Yeojin, Kim Lip & Cocomong – 더주세요 (Yummy-Yummy), Single

I get that they had to make another one just because the first one did so well, and I cannot even begin to explain how much I love how much Gowon hates her life in this music video, but the song is just not as good as the first one. It is much more annoying. slightly overdone meme/10

Loona – HULA HOOP, Japanese Single

1. Hula Hoop

It’s a very creative video with great visuals throughout. Especially Gowon (of course) and Choerry look wonderful in this one. The song itself is…okay? I don’t mind it, really, but it’s nothing I would ever actively seek out to listen to. Every time it does land in a playlist of mine, I can actually enjoy it quite a bit. It’s really okay, yeah. 6/10

2. Star Seed

That’s a Detective Conan intro, at least until the suprisingly good rap part sets in, but then it goes back to being a Detective Conan intro. That’s not even a bad thing, it’s just…I don’t know, there’s just not much else to it I guess. 6/10

3. PTT (Paint the Town) (Japanese Version)

Now, I want you to stop for a moment, go into yourself, collect your thoughts and try to think about what this might sound like. If you came up with “Well, PTT, innit?”, you are correct.

4. Hula Hoop (City Pop Version)

I have been a fan of what is called “City Pop” ever since I, like the rest of the Western world, have been introduced to it by the magnificent “Plastic Love“. What I didn’t know up until then was that “Sanctuary“, a song used in the amazing OST of my favourite PlayStation 2 game “Kingdom Hearts II”, is also of this genre, meaning that I have indeed been into City Pop ever since I was like 12, since this song was my jam back then. I just wanted to say that since…well, when will I ever have the chance to say that ever again? What I like about City Pop is that it is very moody and creates some slow vibes to dive into. At least that is how I would describe it. “Hula Hoop” is not a very moody song, and the cheerful chanting in the chorus does not go well with the City Pop background instrumental. They are just not made for each other. 3/10

Olivia Hye – 봄이 되어줄게, Single

I don’t really know what exactly this is, if it’s an official single or whatever, but I am going to include it anyway. The title means “I will be your spring”, and it’s a ballad sung by Olivia Hye. Although the title says “Live Clip”, it is a normal music video. I don’t know what the fuck they mean with “live” here, it most assertively is not “live”. About the video: Olivia Hye sits on a chair, stands around behind a teachers’ desk, and stands in front of the window, and sings while looking into the camera. Sometimes when she stands in front of the window, though, she does not look into the camera as she is busy looking outside of the window, which is probably the reason for why she stood up to stand in front of the window in the first place. She is located in a room slighty reminiscent of a classroom, just much more colorful and smaller than a regular classroom, and empty. The chair she can be seen seated in is in the window row, which does in fact mean that Olivia Hye is indeed the main character of this very weird anime. If she sings behind the teachers’ desk, she can be seen holding an opened book that has been placed upon said desk. We do not get any information about what the book might be about. She also does not seem to be very interested in the book as she does not engage with it during the course of the video. In fact, she even closes the book on the desk halfway through the video and cannot be seen opening it again. However, there are some scenes where she can be seen looking into a book, but only when she is sitting down in the students’ chair. We can only get a slight glimpse of the cover, though, so I cannot say whether or not this is the same book as the one on the desk. Olivia wears a pink knit sweater with some white flowers on the sleeves and a black skirt. Given that schools in Korea require students to wear a school uniform, which Olivia’s outfit can definitely not be identified as, and teachers dress very formally, we can safely assume that Olivia is neither an actual student nor a teacher of this school. This of course opens up the topic of why Olivia is in this classroom in the first place. We do not get any answers on that in the video, though. The last thing I want to mention is that, sometimes during the course of the video, Olivia can be seen looking away from the camera, and in the direction and presumably out of the aforementioned window. My guess would be that she is, for a fraction of a second, reminiscing about why exactly she is singing this terribly boring song. atleastshelookspretty/10

This is it. I have reviewed all of Loona’s musical output (and one covered song). There is a lot of great music to find in their discography, especially during the recent albums and their solo singles, but they have been on a bit of a “quality hiatus” for a while. The solos and sub units have given me high expectations, and “Hi High” was a good start, but “favOriTe” and “Butterfly” have been a bit mediocre, and “So What” was just pure garbage. Luckily, the recent title tracks have been better again, even though they haven’t been on par with title tracks before the full group debut. Loona’s B-sides have undergone a rapid rise in quality recently. Whereas I haven’t been very interested in the rest of Loona’s albums and just concentrated on the title tracks, the last two mini albums have been full of genuinely great songs. They are a group with a very diverse output, much good stuff to find, but also some disappointments here and there. Thank you for reading.

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