Let me preface this review with stating that bullying is BAD. Please don’t do it. Let me also say that it’s up to you however you want to live your life, but if you intend on aiming for a role as a public figure (especially in Korea), be careful with your decisions!
Now, onto an introduction! I don’t think you’ve ever heard of ARIAZ, and that’s completely fine. The 6-member group from Rising Star made their debut back in October 2019, and sadly, due to a scandal that occurred just days before their debut showcase, the group haven’t been able to make any follow-up releases and is likely to fade into existence. That said, I came across this release completely by accident. I only briefly touched it when it came out and didn’t even know about their scandal, but suddenly, one of the songs appeared on my radar, and I just had to talk about this. Scandal and personal feelings aside, is ARIAZ worthy of a grand opera listen or is this a high note waiting to crack? Let’s read on!
The mini-album begins with a twinkling introduction, “Assemble #1“, that features elements of each of the songs on the release, all in order. It’s a neat ideal that I didn’t initially recognize at first. Sample lines from each track are sung in breathy motion from the members up against a pulsing electro synth that also oddly contains sax in its background. It’s a fun intro that has us wanting more. A great assembly of each song’s catchiest moments, “Assemble #1” leads into… ⬛
“Ouch!” The best song on the mini-album, hands down. One of my most played. All by accident. It’s this B-side (no, it’s NOT the title track at all, to my shock) that somehow landed on my radar, and I couldn’t be more thankful I came across it. It’s a twinkle, it’s a breeze, it’s that harp-like melody upon a frantic array of claps that has a hard-hitting drum beat follow suit. At the chorus, the ‘ow-ow-ouch!’ is what grabs your attention, and then you find yourself singing along with the cute vocals that surround your ears. This song is fun. This song is catchy. This song has a lot of playfulness that I enjoy. It’s crafted to feel spring-like but it booms and tinges with beats all over. “Ouch!” is a treat of a track, and boy was whatever the pain was worth it. ⬛
Romanization: Kkaman Bamui Aria
Initially, “Ouch!” was the only track from the mini that I was listening to, because it didn’t matter what else came after. However, again, by accident, I found myself listening to “Moonlight Aria“, the album’s true title track, that follows a similar electronica vibe to “Ouch!” but is louder and contains more power vocally. Here, it’s just as insanely catchy as the prior track, with its ‘bel bel bel’ endings to verses, and the occasional beautiful vocal deliveries when ‘aria aria ay’ hits. The song pulses with synth (including tinges of game synth) all over, but the girls have vocal prowess to deliver against the loudness and the heavy beats. It still feels spring-like all over, as the melody has a breeziness to it. “Moonlight Aria” is another treat of the mini, an aria that will have you singing along into the night. ⬛
“Drama” brings the tempo down by opting for a slightly slower melody, but it still incorporates a heavy synth and bass electronica feel to it that carries from both “Ouch!” and “Moonlight Aria”. Zooming in with static and distorted electro before snapping into place, “Drama” also retains a catchy feel in its melody, as it twinkles all the way through. It is a weaker track in comparison to the previous two tracks, but it is still a fun track that satisfies with its frantic chorus. Here, there’s a subdued rap that seems slightly out-of-place, but it doesn’t detract from the quality of the track. “Drama”, despite all of what drama is happening to the girls, is a track to check out, and is worth a sip. ⬛
Sung by YunJiXDaWon Aria
The last track on the mini-album is “Where U R“, which still maintains that spring-like but heavy synth vibe. This time around, it is sung only by members YunJi and DaWon, who both deliver stellar vocal ability. Here, the song is no longer one that is filled with zooming synth meant for your to dance. Instead, this is a ballad that opts for a very Demi-Lovato-‘Skyscraper’-esque feel that merges itself with electronica elements to ensure your attention is still in place. It’s a fantastic track that showcases the two members’ vocal prowess, and one that closes the album off in beautiful fashion. It does lack the fun that the mini’s momentum was keeping up, but I think, wherever you are, “Where U R” is a song worth checking out. ⬛
The big oof here is that this debut is incredibly stellar and would have fared so much better, if not for the scandal that destroyed the group’s reputation right from the start. The songs are all fabulous, and ‘Ouch!’ continues to remain as one of my favorite K-pop songs ever. It doesn’t even help that the girls are from the infamous Star Empire Entertainment umbrella, known for their publicized mistreatment of Nine Muses and poor handling of any of their pop groups a la ZE:A and IMFACT. A shame, considering that ‘Grand Opera‘ is a debut like none other, one that should be celebrated but is tarnished by one of their members (effectively putting the other members, several of whom have competed on survival shows, in career purgatory). I can’t say support this release, but if you’re finding yourself missing out on some awesome music, I definitely say check this out (I can’t say illegally either, but hey, your choice). It’s a grand opera that you shouldn’t pay for, but one you should at least give a listen to.
MUST-LISTEN: Ouch!, 까만 밤의 아리아
For more ARIAZ reviews, visit the archive!