REVIEW: NU’EST – Q is.
The one with “Overcome” on it.
This was the album I really started to take notice of NU’EST. It’s February 2016, and I’m completely wrapped up in Taemin’s upcoming comeback for Press It – The 1st Album and “Press Your Number” the title from said album. I was so enamored with this Taemin comeback, I completely missed the first few weeks of NU’EST’s comeback. I mean, they had been exiled to Japanese promotions and hadn’t had a full Korean comeback in about a year and a half. I think their last comeback was their first full length album Re:BIRTH with one of my favorite songs ever “Good Bye Bye” as the title. Another one I gotta talk about on here.
Becoming a kpoppie in 2015, I knew a tiny bit of NU’EST, but I was totally more of a Carat. I was even more familiar with After School’s library than NU’EST. I gotta cover Orange Caramel at some point on here too. Anyway, after I came down from the Taemin high and started looking at other new releases around this time, I stumbled across NU’EST’s “Overcome” and I was hooked. By the time Canvas was released in the summer, I knew I was a L.O.Λ.E, at least casually, you know. I was so confused to why no one was really talking about “Overcome”, it was soooo good. When I finally got to listen to the rest of the album, I loved it. I remember being so excited to get my hands on the physical album. This was back when I was excellent at getting physicals soon after release. Now I’m so behind on collecting physical albums and some of them aren’t even in production anymore 😪. I’ve wanted to talk about my love of this era of NU’EST, and I think now’s the time. So let’s get into it!
Some context for this era for those unfamiliar…
One of my favorite things about NU’EST is how distinctively dance and electronic their sound is. Especially during this era. This album is like a bridge between their music catalog before and their catalog after. This was the subtle shift in sound. Q is. manages to sound like Happily Ever After (the one with “Bet Bet”) an album post NU’EST revival and Re:BIRTH ironically them at their decline, at the same time. I love it.
I think of this album as also being a bridge at this point in their careers. They were in a transitional period. I’m sure there were some serious discussions behind the scenes about what direction the group should go in with them being about halfway through their contracts. They peaked so early on with “Face” and “Hello” and kinda fell off slowly with every release afterwards.
2012 was a super competitive year for boy groups and back then too debuts weren’t nearly as common as they are now. You used to get like maybe 10 or so a year. Now there are hundreds. And it doesn’t really look great when your younger brother group, Seventeen, is basically keeping the lights on at the company. Nana and a few of the remaining After School members that were still at Pledis too, of course, that still had booked schedules and brand deals.
Anyway, in hindsight, their renaissance period was still about a year and a half away (when you consider Produce 101’s full run time). But they didn’t know that when they were working on Q is. According to the Q is. Wiki, initially this album only sold 8,988 copies. Peaking at #5 on Gaon. After them being on Produce 101 the album re-entered the charts and sold an additional 18,544 copies. Idk where the sales are as of writing in early 2022.
I never noticed until looking at the Wiki either that the first letter of ever song title spells love, with the last S and 2 for “ONE KIS2” or “ONEKISS2” depending on if you’re listening to this song, Spotify, YouTube, etc (I’ll use both interchangeably), forming a heart:
LOST & Found
Crying in the club. Also, that explains the VV for With. I was always confused to why it looked like that, lol.
LOST & FOUND
I love the instrumentals and the journey they take you on in “LOST & FOUND”. From the beginning, it sounds like the beginning of an 8bit video game or tip going into an unknown area. The pacing and slight dubstep and drops throughout this song and the album kinda makes it a product of its time. Dubstep is still around, just nowhere near as mainstream as it was, like 2011 to about 2014.
“LOST & FOUND” is my second favorite song from this album. It’s catchy and reminds me of a rollercoaster in a good way. Lots of twist and turns and every time I listen to the song, despite knowing what’s going to happen, I’m still engaged and can’t wait for the next part. Idk it just still as fresh as the first time I heard it.
*Baekho voice* IT’S ALRIGHT, GIRL. Sends me everrrrry time. I love love love his vocals on this freaking song. This is his song. His blue hair was so cute in the music video. Long hair Ren omgggg how could I forget! Such a good time. Legendary behavior. I also forgot Minhyun’s blonde hair and Aaron’s red auburn hair. Actually, Aaron’s hair was a few different colors this era. Sometimes it looks like a brown red, then other times black? That’s probably why I couldn’t remember his hair this era. I always remember JR’s blonde silvery hair, though. That really stood out to me this era. I like it a lot.
The bed squeak is unexpected but was trendy at the time, SM loved the bed squeak in 2016/2017. SHINee’s “Prism” and later NCT 127 “Baby Don’t Like It” come to mind immediately. “Overcome” also has a lot of twists and turns and the members are utilized so well. The bridge and chorus are my favorite parts of this song. It’s such a good song. It’s a ballad, but the dance elements don’t distract from the sincerity of the lyrics.
It was the music video that was my first introduction to “OVERCOME” and NU’EST. I loveeeeee a good plot driven music video. NU’EST members have talk about “Overcome” being about a knight (NU’EST) protecting their queen (L.O.Λ.E) and in the music video you see this. Everything is blue and frozen. It reminds me a little bit of the winter scenes in The Lion, the Witch and the wardrobe. Book or movie, your choice.
My third fave song on the album. This one’s a cute, catchy song that doesn’t have anything super noteworthy about it. It’s a tune. I don’t get hype when it pops up on shuffle, but I don’t skip it. It’s a great song to vibe to. I didn’t know there was a livestage version of this song, so I included it here for y’all to check out.
I feel the same way about “EMOTION” as I do “VVITH”, I just listen to “VVITH” more. The build up near the end of the song with Baekho and Minhyun singing sandwiched around JR’s rap is a perfect wrap up to the song. On one of those whose singing this part lyric videos, they didn’t specify who sings the chorus, so I’m assuming it’s a mix of vocal line. But you’ll recognize the part when you hear it.
ONE KIS2 (ONE KISS2)
While working on this, I just noticed Spotify’s title is different than what’s on the physical album and the Wiki. Then I noticed it’s spelled differently on YouTube also. Anyway, I also learned that this was the only song NU’EST and or Bumzu (Pledis’s main producer, composer and solo artist. He’s worked on tons of your faves music, but you may not have noticed.) didn’t work on. Zuwan, Lee Changguen, and Premium Project 1 are the only ones listed for song credits.
I think it shows. Not in a bad way, but in the way that this song just sounds so different to the rest of the album. We were just giving and having a good time, and the tempo just randomly slowed waaay down. But I love this mid tempo ballad. I almost never listen to it and I just noticed it wasn’t added to my Midtempo Kpop Ballads for Days playlist, so I had to change that immediately.
99% of the time, I have to be in the mood to actively look for/listen to a song like “ONEKISS2”. That’s all. If you listen to songs like that all the time, this is totally up your alley.
Alright, that was Q is. and “Overcome”. I didn’t notice until yesterday that it’s been almost 6 years since this album was release, omggg. Time flyyyys by way too fast. I’m such a lowkey NU’EST stan. But this was like my honeymoon era with them. I have a “Love Paint” post planned. Probably will be the next post on here. While working on this one, I got an idea to do a best of Nuwest (NU’EST W) post. So that will be a future post as well. I hope y’all enjoyed this one! I’ve been busy getting to my new work schedule and other life things.