The new boy group from YG that we have all been anticipating and waiting for is finally here and has finally made their debut! WINNER, who was previously known as Team A from YG’s survival program WIN: Who Is Next, released two MVs ‘Color Ring’ and ‘Empty’ and also released their 1st full-length album ‘2014 S/S’ which managed to achieve an all-kill a few hours after its release.
Out of the two MVs, I checked out ‘Empty’ first (which is composed by Team B’s B.I btw) and immediately found myself bobbing along to the music once the track started to play. It’s an extremely catchy song that really soothes the soul. I really liked it because all the members sounded really good and they got equal line distributions too (which is a huge plus in my dictionary). After watching ‘Empty’, I went to on to go watch ‘Color Ring’ and although I was not as hooked onto the song as I was with ‘Empty’, it’s still a great song nonetheless and I found myself enjoying the MV to ‘Color Ring’ more than I did with ‘Empty.’ Both MVs showcase the members suffering in anguish and pain, but I enjoyed the visuals and cinematography in ‘Color Ring’ because there was a lot more going on in that music video. The music videos aren’t your typical MVs with the choreography and solo shots, but that’s what’s different about WINNER and that’s makes them them.
Going on to the album ‘2014 S/S’, it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed every single track on an album. All the songs are just a great fresh breath of air and I feel like none of them could be classified as filler songs. They all are composed with great quality and caliber and what makes the album even better is that all the songs were composed by the members themselves which is super awesome. I have been given the chance to listen to the whole album and although I thoroughly enjoyed every track, the ones that stuck out to me the most were ‘Empty,’ ‘Love is a Lie,’ and ‘Tonight.’ I would have also included ‘Smile Again’ in that list, but I heard it all the way back when WINNER performed it on ‘WIN: Who Is Next’ and I was constantly repeating that song back then so I’m already quite used to the song. I’m just glad that they put that song in the album because it’s one of my favorite tracks from them.
Now onto the members, *sigh*. I feel like a proud mother watching the MVs and listening to the album. I was extremely surprised with the amount of growth and improvement that every member’s shown, in particular Jinwoo and Seunghoon. The last time I saw and heard them sing and rap was in ‘WIN: Who Is Next’ and back then their skills were still a bit shaky and rough and they got constructively criticized a lot on that show. But it’s been a few months and hearing Jinwoo and Seunghoon play their position in the group again makes me so proud of them because the two have improved by tons. In ‘WIN: Who Is Next’, Jinwoo was always seen as the weakest link when it came to singing and he got criticized a lot for that, but after hearing him sing in all the album tracks, I am still in disbelief at how much he has improved in such a short amount of time. Jinwoo has grown into a really great singer (not that he wasn’t before, but he’s really polished his singing skills). I can hear his confidence when he’s singing in the songs and I love that! I absolutely love it! And then there’s Seunghoon who’s my bias in the group. Compared to Mino who’s had experience in the rapping department, Seunghoon was not as familiar with rapping and therefore often got scolded a lot for his rapping which even YG himself disapproved of because Seunghoon carried his accent while rapping. I too have to admit that as much of a fan I was of Seunghoon, I didn’t enjoy his rapping back when I was watching ‘WIN’ but just like Jinwoo, he has improved by lengths and miles. I was afraid that his rapping would come off very strong and therefore not match the mood of WINNER’s ballads, but Seunghoon is able to rap so smoothly and calmly when he is required to and it’s such a relief to hear that. Seunghoon had a habit of growling when he would rap back then, but now his accent is less noticeable and you can clearly hear his pronunciations. Like I mentioned earlier, all of WINNER has grown a lot, whether that’d be in singing, rapping, or their composition skills. They’ve come a long way and I’m happy to say I was there to witness that from the very start.
I know that some might be disappointed with the album and MV because the tracks aren’t the usual kind of pop and bubbly songs you would hear from an idol group, but I don’t think that was what WINNER was trying to aim for in the first place. It was already evident from their self-composed tracks they performed in ‘WIN:Who Is Next’ that they were going for more ballad-y type of songs and you can hear that in their album ‘2014 S/S.’ I for sure am not disappointed and I do think WINNER’s debut was worth the wait because all the songs are really exceptional and great. I think WINNER’s focus is to appeal to the public rather than gain fans although I know that it’s consequential to do both. I know that WINNER already has many Inner Circles (their fandom name), but the songs on their album aren’t usually the type that fans are used to listening so it might throw some people off, but the album is mature and sophisticated and that’s so refreshing coming from a debuting idol group. We rarely get to see or hear music like what WINNER has provided so this kind of thing can help them gain recognition from the public. I don’t see them doing anything idol-like for right now (the closest to that would be ‘Smile Again’ but then again ‘Smile Again’ was very mature and different) and I hope they don’t. I really like what they’ve shown us for their debut so far and I hope they continue to stay on that track.
Overall, WINNER’s debut has surpassed and exceeded beyond my expectations. It took quite a while for them to make their debut appearance, but it really was worth the long wait. Congratulations WINNER and I wish you guys all the best! 😀