Top 10 Locations for Photography in Toronto!

Happy New Year everyone,

I wish you all great health, happiness, success and peace of mind for 2017. A new year means new chances and new opportunities!

With that being said, it is time to move on to today’s topic and today we will talk about the best photography locations in Toronto. I am a huge lover of photography, and  Toronto is a dynamic city and there are some great spots for taking photos.

So let’s take a look at my top 10 picks.

 

1.Scarborough Bluff Park

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For beautiful scenic photos, Scarborough Bluff is the place to explore. The Bluff Park is located in the Scarborough district, which forms much of eastern portion of the Toronto waterfront. I went to the park for the first time last summer and it was stunning, there are some hiking trails and of course, the beach. You will feel as if you have gone on a tropical vacation, well almost.

2. Distillery District

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The Distillery District has an industrial look, but yet classy. It is located east of downtown and  it contains numerous cafés, restaurants, and shops housed within heritage buildings of the former Gooderham and Worts Dstillery (former distiller of alcoholic beverages). The architecture depicts the Victorian era industrial look, it is quite beautiful and different from the typical city architecture. I like going there because it feels like you are somewhere else, I love historic architecture more than modern design.

3. Graffiti Alley

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Street art is my favorite and the Graffiti Alley has endless alleys of graffiti art. The Graffiti Alley is located in the Fashion District, and it runs south of Queen Street West from Spadina Avenue to Portland Street beginning at 1 rush lane. It has a unique charm and it is a great spot for edgier photos.

4. Evergreen Brick Works

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Evergreen Brick works is a former quarry and industrial site located in the Don River Valley. The park offers lots of fun activities and events for the family such as farmers market, restaurants and shops. Evergreen Brick Works has a lovely view of downtown Toronto, surrounded by trees. This is also a great spot for hiking, and discovering new spots in the park to gain a different perspective of the city.

5. Harbourfront.

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The Harbourfront in our city is dynamics place, there is so much to see and do. You will get a great view of Lake Ontario, the beautiful harbour and a view of the Toronto Islands.

6. Toronto Islands

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The islands are buzzing with people in the summer time, there is so much to see and explore. The islands offers a wonderful view of the Toronto’s skylines, while exploring the islands you will finds many beaches, gardens, the lighthouse and so much more.

7. Toronto Light Festival

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There is something brand new coming to Toronto this winter to keep us entertained and encourage us to leave our house without hibernating all the way till Spring. The Toronto Light Festival will be running from January 27 to March 12, 2017! According to their website, you are expected to see this at the festival. I am personally very excited about this one, and I can’t wait to go and explore the cool light installations.

Discover lighting creations of
every size and type.

View installations appearing
to float in the sky.

Experience magical light sculptures, breath taking light canopies, neon artworks & futuristic laser formations.

8. Polson Pier

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Polson Pier was previously known as, The Docks Waterfront Entertainment Complex, it is located in the largely industrial Port Lands area along the shore of Toronto Harbour. It is a great spot for photography because it offers a different angle of the city, and it looks very interesting in the winter time when everything is frozen.

9. Humber Bay Arch Bridge

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This summer I decided to go on a short photography trip to the Humber Bay Bridge, it is located south of Lakeshore Blvd. West. It has a stunning scenic lookout of the city, if you ever come down to south Etobicoke, make sure you come down for a visit.

10. Young-Dundas Square

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Think of it as a smaller version of Times Square! I was lucky enough to complete my undergraduate degree in the heart of downtown Toronto, so that meant I was always in Younge-Dundas Square. This part of the city is buzzing with people and it is probably the busiest spot in the city. You will find large billboards, street performers and many exciting events happening there. It’s a must see.

Ok, this concludes today’s top 10 list pf photography spots in Toronto! Of course, there are many more places, so I’ll be writing a part two post soon.

I’m curious to know, which is your favorite photography location in Toronto. Let me know in the comments below, and with that being said I’ll see you all soon!

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Top 10 Songs of 2016!

Hello again everyone,

I wanted to also share with you my list of my favorite songs from 2016, there are so many but I hope you enjoy my picks

   1. The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey – Closer

The Chainsmokers are definitely my new favorite musicians, every song they released so far has been to my liking!

2. Sia – Cheap Thrills

Addictive melody, well written lyrics and amazing dance performance by Maddie Ziegler, Sia never disappoints me.

3. Dj Snake ft. Justin Bieber – Let Me Love Your

I have replayed this song more than I should, I’m usually not a fan of Justin Bieber’s music, but this collaboration with Dj Snake is my favorite.

4. Ariana Grande – Into You

Ariana Grande outdid herself this year with releasing more mature album with a mature sound, I love her new work and this song is probably the best one from the entire album.

5. Bruno Mars – 24K Magic

Bruno Mars really know how to produce a track that will make you want to get up dance, 24K Magic is exactly that.

6. John Legend – Love Me

7. Calvin Harris ft. Rihanna – This is What You Came For

8. Rihanna ft. Drake – Work

9. Britney Spears ft. G-Eazy – Make Me

10. Adele – Send My Love (To Your New Lover)

Thank you for reading, I can’t wait to see what new music will be released in 2017 🙂

Happy New Year everyone and I wish you great health, happiness, success and peace of mind for 2017! Thank you spending another year with me, your support means the world to me 🙂

Top 20 Kpop Songs of 2016!

Hello everyone,

Wow, it sure has been a while since I’ve posted anything but life has been a little crazy lately. Luckily, it has slowed down a little bit, and I’ve been able to think of new content to write on my blog. I’ve missed writing on this blog and as you all know, this blog went through a lot of changes. Content changes, name changes and so much more. Being blogger is not as easy as you might think, but inspiration is finally striking me.

It is no secret that I love Kpop, I listen to it daily, that’s why I decided to write my yearly “Top 20 Kpop Song” post for this year. There were many great group who debuted, and other groups that rose to fame. The picks for this list are based on my personal preference, but sales, chart ratings, awards and more will be taken into consideration.

Enjoy!

20. Jessica – Fly

Not many people will include Jessica Jung’s comeback as part of this list, but I will because she deserves the recognition. Jessica Jung is a former SNSD member, who stated she was forced out of the group and SM Entertainment. It’s been a hard road for Miss Jung, but she rose to the top, debuting with a mini solo album and joining Coridel Entertainment. Her song “Fly” is about her struggles, and triumphing above the adversity. She sure did that and she is soaring high.

19. Fei – Fantasy

MISS A’s member Feimade her solo debut this summer with the sultry song “Fantasy”. We are seeing a brand new image of the Kpop star, this song could’ve been more popular, however was some controversy about Korean-Chinese relations that got in the way of this being a more successful single.

18. K.A.R.D – Oh, Na, Na

K.A.R.D is new group that debuted this month under DSP Media, the group is composed of four members: two girls and two guys. It is rare to see a mix gendered group in the Kpop World, but it is also so refreshing to see something new. They plan to release three project singles with hidden members (musicians from the agency), before they hold their official debut. “Oh, Na, Na” has already gained recognition and success with reaching millions of view shortly after releasing their song. In addition, they debuted number three on the US Kpop iTunes Chart, this is a group we have to look out for in 2017. They are just getting started!

17. Block B – A Few Years Later

This is a surprising change from the typical hip hop, bad boy image of Block B, I love the sentimental feeling from this song. This song is included on this list because I give recognition to bands that are willing to step out of their typical edgy image.

16. Astro – Hide & Seek

Astro debuted earlier this year and I refer to them as the male version of Gfriend, their single “Hide & Seek” is full of energy that won’t fail to cheer you up. They performed well on the music charts, and the public response towards their debut has been very positive. I can’t wait to see more.

 

15.  EXID – Lie

The title track “L.I.E” from their album “Street” has influences R&B, dance and hip-hop, with their typical catchy chorus. Their song won them four awards!

14. GOT7 – Fly

After having success in 2015, GOT7 came with more for us this year! “Fly” was another hit and it received four awards. Keep it up boys!

13. Taemin – Drip Drop

We can’t froget about this gem that was released earlier this year, Teamin is a modern day Michael Jackson. His dance performance in the MV is jaw dropping, and Taemin’s vocals are pretty great too.

12. Taeyeon – Why

Taeyeon has delivered soulful tracks, so it was about time to hear something more upbeat from her. “Why” is the summer song of 2016, this EDM inspired track peaked at number one on the Gaon Digital Charts.

11. Ladies Code – Galaxy

Ladies Code made a brave comeback this year, after being absent from the music scene for a year and half. In September 2014, Ladies Code got into an accident that resulted in the deaths of  members EunB and Rise. That left the group with three surviving members. Their faith was uncertain because people didn’t know if they were ever going to come back. They showed their bravery by coming back with a brand new mini album and their song “Galaxy”. Throughout the music video there is constant symbolism becoming a  trio group. I have tremendous respect for these ladies, they are stronger and braver than ever. Watch out for them because they are a force to be reckoned with.

10. SHINee – Tell Me What To Do

SHINee is my favorite boy band and I love their evolution of style and music genre, this electro-pop track has an addictive melody and chill-inducing high notes.

9. I.o.I – Very, Very Very

I.o.I is a Korean pop girl group formed by CJ E&M Entertainment, through the reality TV show Produce 101 on Mnet. The group consists of eleven members who were chosen from a pool of 101 trainees from various entertainment companies. Lim Na-young, Kim Chung-ha, Kim Se-jeong, Jung Chae-yeon, Zhou Jieqiong, Kim So-hye, Yu Yeon-jung, Choi Yoo-jung, Kang Mi-na, Kim Do-yeon and Jeon So-mi debuted on May 4, 2016 with their mini-album “Chrysalis”, who are expected to release new music until they return to their respectful agencies. Their last single will be released in January 2017 without any promotions on music shows.I refer to them as a trial group, during this time they have gained tremendous popularity and success. Their song “Very, Very, Very” produced by JYP, won their first music show trophy as whole group. I wish the members all the best in their future endeavors in the Kpop scene.

8. Twice – Cheer Up

Twice, or as I like to call them, South Korea’s sweethearts have captured the hearts of fans all over the world. The group debuted in 2015 and they’ve had huge success since then, their song “Cheer Up’ has gone viral with it’s catchy ‘shy, shy, shy’ hook by Sana. The song has become a mega-hit and just wait until the chorus of the song, it is so catchy you’ll replay it over and over again.

7. Wonder girls – Why so lonely

Wonder Girls made a comeback this July as a band and a new inspired reggae-pop song, that was playing in everyone’s heads over and over again. They showcase versatility and trying a new mix of genres along with playing music instruments. Talk about a talent!

6. MAMAMOO – You’re The Best

Mamamoo are a vocal powerhouse, it’s an easy going and cheerful song, and after sweeping the charts with, “You’re The Best”, their name became more popular to the masses. This is one of their most popular songs, until the next one of course.

5. Zico ft. Crush and DEAN – Bermuda Triangle

Zico from the group Block B has proven he is a hit maker, his single “Bermuda Triangle ” peaked at number two on the music charts. Zico brings more attention to hip-hop music in the Korean Music Industry.

4. EXO – Monster

EXO are known for their catchy pop tunes, but this time with “Monster” we are introduced to something different. Starting the song with a dark, hip hop tune and dark edgy visuals, but once the chorus hits we are brought back to that pop music magic EXO can create.

3. Blackpink – Whistle

Blackpink debuted on August 8, 2016 under YG Entertainment, YG is considered one of the top three agencies along with SM Entertainment and JYP. The group consists of four members: Jisoo, Lisa, Rose and Jennie. BlackPink had a successful debut with their debut singles “Boombayah” and “Whistle”. Their music videos reached millions within weeks, they rose to popularity instantly and they already won many awards for their singles. Their win at Inkigayo broke a record for winning an award within 14 days of their debut. BlackPink release catchy music with powerful choreography, their song “Whistle”  landed a number 1 spot on the Korean and US World Music charts. “Whistle” also won them a Song of the Year at the Gaon Chart Kpop Awards, along with the Melon Popularity Award, the Mnet Best Music Video Award. Their music translates well into the Western music scene with countless of Western fans. They have a bright future ahead of them and I can’t wait to listen to more of their music.

2. Gfriend – Rough

A new generation of Kpop groups are debuting and Gfriend has secured a spot as one of the top new girl groups. Their song “Rough” has a beautiful dramatic and violin sound with a heartfelt vocal performance. “Rough” won  Gaon Chart Kpop Awards for Best New Song and many more. We look forward to find out what this talented group will do next in 2017.

1. BTS – Blood, Sweat and Tears 

Blood, Sweat and Tears is an accurate representation to show how hard BTS have worked to ensure they have a successful music career. Their hard work payed this year, BTS is rising to the top as fast as a space rocket. “Blood, Sweat and Tears” is emotional song with a melancholic sound, powerful vocals and choreography, with impressive visuals. I think they slayed this year and they rightfully deserve a number one spot on this list.

I can’t wait to see what Kpop will bring us in 2017, let me know in the comments below which are your top three Kpop song of 2016 🙂

See you all soon!

 

 

 

Life Through a Lens!

Hi everyone,

I’m back again with another photography post! I’ve been working very hard, studying photography to improve my art. I’ve put together this post to show some of my recent work. I hope you all enjoy these photos!

🙂

Distillery District, Toronto

  

St. Nathan Phillips Square

 

Humber River


  

Steel Bridge in Portland, Oregon

 

That anticipation of going somewhere new!

 

Yorkville, Toronto

I hope you all enjoyed these photos, let me know which one stood out to you.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Lindsey Stirling, Brave Enough Tour 2016

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while, my apologies for keeping you waiting but I have a brand new post for you so I hope that makes up for the wait 🙂

For those of you who are new to my blog I am not a professional music critic. Simply love music so much that I want to write my thoughts and opinions about albums, songs, and performances. So that’s exactly what I’m going to be doing today I will talk to you guys about the Lindsey Stirling performance I saw this Tuesday. Lindsey Stirling is one of the most innovative and creative violinist of our time. This may sound like an exaggeration, but go on over to her YouTube channel and you will be blown away by her talent.

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Lindsey Stirling, Brave Enough, album cover.

Before I get into the good stuff, I want to give you guys a brief background information about Lindsey. Lindsey Stirling was born on September 21, 1986 she is an electronic classical performance artist. She combines both genres of music and dances while playing the violin, as you can imagine it takes a lot of stamina to be able to do that but she makes it look so effortless. Lindsey decided in 2010 to appear on America’s Got Talent, but she got voted off further into the show and was told she wouldn’t be able to sell out any shows with this kind of music. She then took her music YouTube, cinematographer David Gray reached out to Lindsey in hopes of collaborating on a YouTube video together. From there her music started to take off and slowly she gain more following. She has released three albums and her first release was her self-titled album Lindsey Stirling. She has performed with many amazing singers such as Celine Dion, and she won a Billboard Award for Top Dance Electronic album. Do I need to say more, she is quite amazing!

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Lindsey Stirling, along side Celine Dion at the 2016 Billboard Awards!

I’m going to give you a breakdown of what the concert was like and what to expect if you are attending her. The concert began with Shawn Hook as the opening act, who is also a fellow Canadian. He has performed with Elton John, so he is someone to look out for in the future. If I can recall correctly, he performed about 4-5 songs, including his famous single, “Sound of Your Heart”. He had great vocals, very clear and not auto-tuned at all and his piano skills were on point. The show began at 8:00pm, Shawn performed until 8:30pm and then we had a half an hour intermission.

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At 9 o’clock, the star of the night appeared on stage, she performed her song “Pheonix” and it was an electrifying introduction. The stage looked incredible, three screens were set up and on top the Brave Enough logo could be seen.

The costumes and stage effects were quite impressive, in front of the main stage there was a net-like looking screen that was brought down. On that screen special effects were projected, such as leaves falling down or the effects of rain. It was definitely a very unique visual experience. Seeing Lindsey perform on stage you can see she definitely has the charisma and the energy to keep the audience engaged. She loves what she does for a living and this is her passion. The skill of dancing and playing the violin at the same time can be a very hard but she manages to pull it off very well. Lindsey Stirling is a very down to earth person who engaged with the audience and had conversations with them. She put together a little skit that supposedly was filmed backstage, it was quite funny and we were all laughing. Lindsey along with her drummer and guitar player, came out onstage with child sized music instruments and played a song or two. That just goes to show even with a child’s toy she can still pull it off.

After the skit Lindsey took the time to talk about one of her crew members, Gavi, who passed away of cancer. She talked about how hard it was for her to deal with this loss and how she’s overcoming it. She performed a tribute song for Gavi with a special video montage she put together of him. After this tribute performance, Lindsey talked about a song that Gavi and her started writing together before he passed away. They couldn’t finish it so she said that she worked very hard and she felt that she had Gavi’s support from up above to finish the song. It was very touching performance. Afterwards, Lindsay changed costumes and played a few more songs before ending the show. When she performed her song, “Arena”, she talked about the adversity she faced when she was told that she will not be able to make it as a musician. Her positive message to anyone in the audience who had any special talents was never to give up and never to let anyone tell them that they cannot do it. Instead she said to use it as a way to get back up there and fight for what you are born to do. It was such a great message and it really hits close to home for me personally, because I have lots of aspirations and dreams for the entertainment industry. After she left the stage everybody were yelling encore, encore, we all wanted to see her back on stage and she came back for one final performance of “Roundtable Rival”.

What am I going take away from this concert experience? I have learned that being persistent to chase your dreams is vital. Never give up, Lindsey didn’t and now she is a star. Make sure you visit her YouTube channel, you are in for a treat!

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

 

The Ugly Side of the Kpop Industry!

The world of Kpop is unlike anything you’ve ever seen, the colors, the fashion and the unique music concepts. Once you enter the world of Kpop, there is no going back because let face it, it is quite great to be part of the Kpop craze. However, there is much more to Kpop than fun and games! We tend to see Kpop stars always smiling and looking glamorous, but this wasn’t always the case for them. In fact, the journey to becoming a Kpop star is incredibly long and emotionally draining. So today, I wanted to take the time to sit down and write about the Kpop industry. I have learned all of this information from YouTube, from interviews with Kpop stars and online articles. If you were ever interested to see how someone can become a star in South Korea, this is the blog post for you.

In South Korea, there are three major entertainment agencies: SM Entertainment, JYP and YG.

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There are other entertainment agencies of course, such as Pledis, CUBE, DSP, Starship and many more. However, the first agencies I listed rank the highest among the others. If someone wants to become a Kpop star, they have to go through an audition process. When auditions are held, the participants are graded on their vocal and dancing abilities, having charisma is considered an asset as well. When participants pass their auditions, this does not mean they are on their way to stardom. The next step is training, also known as the trainee life. Some trainees are as young as ten years old, and transitioning out of that trainee life is extremely challenging. Below you can watch audition from YouTube of famous Kpop stars i.e. SNSD, Park Bom from 2ne1 and Taemin from SHINEE.

The trainee life time span varies from a few months, to a few years. This all depends on the abilities of the artist, the more you lack, the longer you train. There are some trainees who train for years and eventually they don’t debut at all. This is the sad reality for some people who aspire to become a Kpop star. Trainees also have a very strict schedule, they have to train vocally and improve their dancing skills. They also take language classes, because being multilingual or bilingual in the Kpop industry is considered an asset. For example, the Queen of Kpop, BoA, knows Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese. Knowing more than one language is important because it helps the artist make break through into the foreign music market. That is usually the goal of the entertainment companies. There are a lot of stories about the life of a trainee, and some stories are not positive. Plastic surgery is very popular among some Kpop stars, some trainees are told they need to undergo plastic surgery before debuting. The purpose of this is for trainees to look more “appealing” to the public. There is an obsession with looking perfect and acting perfect. Kpop idol, Suhyun from the duo group, AKMU shared a story on a KBS2 variety program Happy Together. According to her, CEO of YG Entertainment asked her, “For you Suhyun, how about getting a little touch up on your nose?” Following this question, Suhyun responded respectfully and firmly, “Not going to do it. President, I am already very thankful that I have two nostrils that I can breathe out of.”

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Suhyun on the TV show, “Happy Together”.

Way to go, she certainly knows how to handle herself in the industry and she is not letting the pressure influence her decisions!

Another problem in the Kpop industry is overworking the artists with an intense work schedule. Former, SM and EXO member, Tao, expressed his frustrations about his former company in an exclusive interview. In his interview, Tao talked about his trainee life, the busy schedule they had to abide by, whether they were sick or injured. Tao shared that SM staff used to encourage them to push through, even if they were ill or injured. To watch more of what Tao had to say, watch the video below.

Former SM trainee, Stella Kim, talked about her experiences of being told she needs to lose weight and go on crazy diets. Based on many examples that are covered in this post, it looks like the Kpop industry is highly focused on looks, therefore coming across as very superficial. This kind of treatment may tend to lead to many disorders, including emotional issues. To hear more of what Stella Kim had to say, take a look at her video below.

Most agencies control everything from whether the artists can date, to the type  of music the Kpop stars can release. These agencies typically come up with the concepts, lyrics and composition of the artist’s work, giving them little power over production process. However, there are instances where there is an exception.  Aside from this, it is said that Kpop Stars have the so-called slave contract. The Stars sign a contract for a number of years, however if you try to leave earlier, the agency will file a lawsuit. That has happened quite a bit of times recently, especially when Tao, Luhan and Kris from EXO left SM Entertainment before their contract expired. SM Entertainment filed a lawsuit against the three members, with Tao losing the battle. The lawsuit results against Luhan and Kris have not been released yet because nothing has been finalized. However, SM Entertainment were successful with their lawsuit against Tao. Another example of Kpop idols engaging in a legal battle with their agencies are Dong Bang Shin Ki. They took their management to court over their 13 year contract, claiming their didn’t get enough of the profit. The group won the lawsuit, resulting in  the Fair Trade Commission to bring into play a “model contract” to attempt to improve the deals that idols got from their management companies (information about this particular matter was gathered from http://beyondhallyu.com/k-pop/k-pop-slave-contracts-a-closer-look/). The reality of the Kpop industry is rather than focusing more on fair treatment of their artists, most of the time Kpop idols are used as a way for the companies to make profit. Behind the scenes, the Kpop industry is big hot mess, where idols are exploited. There are always exceptions, but there is no denying that the Kpop world can be rough and if you want to audition, do a throughout research of the industry.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this matter, so feel free to leave me a brief comment.

See you soon!

 

SOURCES

[http://beyondhallyu.com/k-pop/k-pop-slave-contracts-a-closer-look/]

[https://www.dramafever.com/news/what-was-akdong-musician-suhyuns-response-after-yg-recommended-she-get-a-nose-job/]

 

 

 

Music Monday! BlackPink – Whistle & Boombayah.

Hello everyone,

Welcome back to Music Monday! Today I bring to you yet again another Kpop music video, not one but two music videos. Today I want to introduce to you the newest girl group in South Korea, BlackPink.

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BlackPink was created by YG Entertainment and group debuted on August 8, 2016. The group consists of four members, Jisoo, Jennie, Rose and Lisa, who have been training for six years.The group debuted two singles,“Boombayah” a more hip hop inspired track with a slight influence of EDM during the chorus part of the song. The second single is “Whistle” with a minimal hip hop tune, that sounds more mellow. For a rookie group, they are doing incredibly well and won the hearts of many fans around the world. They also won their first award for their single, “Whistle”, at Inkigayo.

I think these girls have a bright future ahead of them and I’m looking forward to more music releases.

Enjoy and let me know which song you like the most!

See you soon!