Music Review

WINNER – 2014 S/S Review

Did y’all know Bobby and B.I helped in composing this album along with 4/5 WINNER members? Because I did not.

I learned that off jpopasia and the 2014 S/S album Wiki. It’s so weird to me how iKONIC and INNERCIRCLES were pitted against each other early on into both groups careers when they’re all pretty close and have worked together on so many projects. Bad PR on YGE if ya ask me. Which no one did lmao.

If I had to recommend an album to a non-kpoppie to listen to for them to get their toes wet before diving into the enormous genre that is Kpop, this is at the top of the list. One day I’ll have an official list of like my top 10 fave Kpop albums for non-kpoppies. Not in one of those pretentious way of, “they’re better than the average Kpop artist” type of way. But in a it’s just a good fooking album that happens to mostly be in Korean. Like Parasite and Train to Busan being excellent films that also happen to be in Korean.

Winner was in their first full year by the time I ran across this album, sometime in 2015. I was starting to expand outside of SME groups more and getting into BTS, Monsta X, and Seventeen. I had been listening to a ton of 2NE1 thanks to Pandora’s limited Kpop selection at the time. I couldn’t really get into Big Bang. There were a few songs I liked. But I really liked the few Winner songs that kept popping up, like Mini’s solo song “I’m Him” and “empty”.

So I finally listened to the whole album. I forgot now if it was on YouTube or Spotify, but I instantly fell in love and became an inner circle. After following a few blogs on Tumblr, I decided my fave members were Taehyun and Mino. Side note, why are so many of my faves end up getting kicked out of their groups, leaving on their own account, or almost get kicked out? What’s that about? Anyway, let’s get into the album.


empty

We love a mid-tempo jam. It’s such a sad song that’s perfect for listening to on a rainy day. One of those songs you put on and feel like you’re staring in a movie or music video while you’re looking out of a window in the car. I hadn’t watched the music video in forever. I forgot, it starts off with the song playing from a voicemail. Love that added tidbit.

I think I also really like this song and album because of the juxtaposition of this cool hip hop group having a slower paced emotional song. It’s the same reason why I like BigBang’s “If You”. It has a similar vibe. That’s my fave Big Bang song, actually. I’m early, but 2014 S/S has so many acoustic and alternative elements throughout it. As an emo girl at heart, this album brings me back to my Mayday Parade era sophomore year in high school. No wonder Taehyun left to start a full on alternative band.

Color Ring

I forgot this one had a music video. Wtf? I also forgot how suits heavy their outfits were this era. Anyway, and then we jump to an even slower song. Well initially. I love the transition in the bridge between Seungyoon (Yoon) and Seunghoon’s (Hoony) voices. They sing ring ring ring together, then it’s just Seunghoon saying ring ring before he starts rapping. Sends me everytime. The song gradually adds more instruments and plays with the pacing that isn’t jarring. Another top tier song.

Don’t Flirt

Aw yeah, now we’re getting into the faster pace dance like songs. I love the ooohs right before the chorus. You’ve already gotten a preview of the chorus in the intro, but it repackages it nicely. The back and forth with Jinwoo (Jinu) and Taehyun before getting into the chorus is also a high point for me. From what I saw on one of the lyric videos, it looks like Yoon does Taehyun’s part now? Idk if they just didn’t want to mention Taehyun since he’s been gone from the group or if that’s actually how they perform it now.

I’m Him

Excuse my French but this song just fookin slaps. This made me so hype for a Mino solo whenever that would happen (“Body” was about a year away on the joint album Mobb, with Bobby from iKon. Man the chaos that album caused between fandoms.) “I’m Him” is such a good song to vibe to, workout, get you pumped up for a big event. He understood the assignment with this one. Chefs kiss.

I actually managed to avoid this music video until now. I don’t know if I knew there was a video for this song. I always listened to the audio of it, lol. It’s very much a product of it’s time.

Love is a lie

This might be my favorite song off this album. I love these sad songs you can dance too. Like if you’re going through it, I want some jams to go with the mood. The line distribution on 2014 S/S is really good. But on songs like “Love is a lie” I feel like it’s really a group effort that makes this song work so well. I love Mino and Hoony’s delivery of “Hey what? My loves a lie?” I also love Yoon’s delivery in his part after the first chours. It’s so smooth and calming, despite it being another break up song.

Confession

Taehyun really loved his boring ballads, huh? I did follow a little bit of his South Club project after he left Winner, but I haven’t really kept up after their first comeback. Actually, I haven’t really any news this year now that I think about it. I wonder how he’s hanging? Anyway, this is a superb showcase of his vocals and talent. I don’t really listen to this one unless I’m listening to the full album.

Update: So after a quick Google search, South Club is still a thing, and they’re working on new music. I guess the label Taehyun had started has been defunct since 2019 and now him and the group are under P&B. It also looks like he does some Twitch streams occasionally along with golfing now, so that’s fun. Glad he’s doing alright. Here’s his IG and the band IG for updates.

But

This is more of my speed. I love Taehyun’s solo song on Exit : E “I’m Young”. I guess I’ll have to talk about that album next. “But” is another slower paced group song. My favorite parts are when they sing the nah pa so together and the instrumental that songs like a twinkling star. Idk how to describe it, but if you know the song, you know what I’m talking about. It’s probably a triangle. Idk instruments.

Different

I love this song. I feel like this was one of those songs you know in passing. Like you’ve heard of a group or soloist and could name like biggest hit, but you’re not that familiar with the rest of their discography. “Different” feels like that. I remember this song was everywhere back in 2014/2015.

Tonight

“Tonight” is another song I don’t really listen to frequently, but I love it. There really aren’t any parts that really stand out for me. It’s just a good song. Nice way to start the end.

Smile Again

I distinctly remember this song, but I forgot this was the last song on 2014 S/S. I like ending things on a dancier vibe. This is another one I don’t come across a lot, but when I do listen to it again, I enjoy it.


2014 S/S is truly one of those albums you can start and walk away. There are no skips. This is the best of Winner for me. I love Exit : E and I hate it was cut so short. They really went through a sound change and thankfully were able to continue forward. I love “Really Really” but nothing else Winner had released hit the same for me as “Really Really” or 2014 S/S.

If y’all have some suggestions, let me know in the comments. I had to share my love for this album even though I’m not really a Winner stan anymore. What are y’all take on this album? I hope y’all enjoyed this post!

Take care!

Ash 💖

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