Christmas and winter bring with them the need for Hallyu groups to get their fan-bases in the seasonal mood, and Apink as a group that debuted almost six years ago are no different. 15th December 2016 saw the release of their special Christmas album “Dear”, featuring some new tracks, remakes of previous hits, duets, and instrumental tracks. Unfortunately, we cannot review the first track on the CD, entitled ‘Dear (Whisper)’, which is a recorded conversation between all the members. However, the vocal tracks are definitely enough to review as there’s already so much going on!
Cause You’re My Star
Apink open “Dear” with ‘Cause You’re My Star’, an upbeat, electro-pop title track supported by synths and a lovely set of lyrics! This track screams Apink in its style, delivery, and playfulness. It’s a great opening track and sets the tone of the rest of this seasonal album.
I’m an absolute sucker for more acoustic tracks, and ‘Miss U’ is definitely one of those tracks that – though seemingly melancholic and bittersweet – is actually just soft, relaxing, and heartwarming. The vocals here are great and, supported by just the guitar, soft drums, and piano, only makes this track more relaxing.
No No No (Ballad Ver.)
The original version of ‘No No No’ was a K-Pop game-changer: upbeat, great choreography, and just as sparkly as Apink themselves. So, hearing a remake like this one is great. The ballad version of ‘No No No’ is reminiscent of that original playfulness, but really serves to emphasise Apink’s wonderful vocals and flexibility in turning what was such an upbeat track into an emotionally heavy and mellow track. Well done to Apink!
Only One (R&B Ver.)
‘Only One’ is the second of Apink’s three remakes. Whilst this track is marketed as the ‘R&B version’, one might say that the original version is far R&B than this one: instead, this remake is slightly more jazzed-up with a more heartier melody, use of different instruments and more heavy usage of the piano. This is a good remake too, but I think would prefer the original version.
LUV (Ballad Ver.)
‘Luv’ undergoes a similar remake to ‘No No No’, completely slowing down from an upbeat synthopop track to a piano- and strings-heavy track. This is a lovely rendition of the original pop track, and arguably, this track has a lot more substance as a ballad: the choruses are fantastically built up, and the outro of the track is so lovely to listen to. Again, Apink’s vocals really come out here.
Cliché (or Original Thing)
We now go into three duets. The first, ‘Cliché’, is a duet by Naeun and Chorong. A mid-tempo pop ballad, this track is another great listen: supported by the acoustic guitar and soft percussion, it’s a nice change from the heavy ballad remakes. There’s nothing particularly special about it, but it’s definitely a great listen.
Heaven (or Lost Pieces)
This duet is by Bomi and Namjoo, and again a soft but uplifting ballad track, supported by strings and piano rifts. This ballad is very fulfilling and a much heavier listen than the other ballads on this album. It would serve as a great album outro, with its inspiring sound. Vocally, it’s on point and is a great addition to this album.
Instead, the outro track (excluding the three instrumental tracks) is by Eunji and Hayoung, and another mid-tempo acoustic guitar pop track. At this point, Apink may have overdone ‘acoustic pop’ as this track doesn’t really have any identifying elements. That doesn’t mean that it’s a bad track: quite the contrary. But it would have been good to have a closing track that was more meaningful. Having said that, this is very much Apink’s style, so credit to them for keeping their fans happy!
This is a great seasonal special! Apink’s release of “Dear” hits the Christmas and winter mood absolutely perfectly, and if you’re new to Apink, then you get to hear some old classics remade, as well as their signature sound through other tracks. It’s a strong album by Apink, and whilst it would have been good to hear some other sounds, Apink had done what they know well, which is all we can ask from the Christmas season. Well done, Apink!
Review written by Tariq