Itzy album review: Guess Who
K-pop girl group ITZY debuted two years ago with cheeky and pizzazz.DALLA DALLA. The song sounded like their ancestors and contemporaries – 2NE1’s domineering voice, TWICE group songs, Momoland’s failures hit by a triplet– While establishing the quintet as a massive new force in the industry. Their cute but spirited electropop puts dubstep swaying against shiny synths and traps the drums against cheerleader vocals. More memorable was the message, with self-loving words and explicit, endearing encouragement: “Hold your head up! We support you! The choir’s hymn shouts “I love myself!” addressed to you and to themselves; it was instructive pump.
ITZY has always associated contagious confidence with bold writing; singles like “ICE CREAM“and”WANNABE”Have prismatic rhythms that make them pop glasses ready for the parades (it’s fitting that they are the only K-pop group with production credits by SOPHIE). Unfortunately, their latest mini album, Guess who, Often strayed from the formula, eschewing the genre-blending plume for the tedious straight ahead. The first single “Mafia in the Morning” is the biggest offender: there’s a Cardi B tune in the verses, but it looks a different way from BLACKPINK without the stadium-sized grandeur. ITZY’s label mates Stray Kids took aim explosive hip-hop too, but the results have never been so staid and one-dimensional. Whenever K-pop borrows ideas from black music and breathes them so hard, the results are commendable – there’s no empowerment here, just second-hand embarrassment.
Guess who exposes ITZY kitchen sink approach as a necessity; without it, their songs fail to dazzle. Their rap, for example, is rarely impressive, so it is best if it is included as a minor element. “KIDDING ME” makes this extremely clear: Built on rocky rocking rockets, the song has a brain-vibrating chorus drop and the album’s worst rap verse, both technically and lyrically. Yet by diversifying its individual parts, the song redeems itself: the pre-chorus is all balladerie and EDM accumulation, and its final 15 seconds finds wacky electronics adorning the beat, like a final blitz on the track. dance. It’s a much more compelling hip-hop track than “Mafia in the Morning,” in large part because it refuses to be just that.
What most deserves lead-single status is “Sorry, not sorry”. It’s built on a country-rock guitar riff that exudes the boastfulness of the lyrics. This impertinence is offset by dreamy pre-choruses: “I’ll show you, are you ready for me?” they sing. It’s a vulnerable moment – an announcement they’ve been quietly waiting to show. This is exactly what they do on the chorus: with blazing brass, their singing and rapping vocals strut on fast-fire bass drums – they sound like shrapnel when they yell “ITZY”.
Guess whoThe other pieces are paltry and bloodless. “SHOOT!” Does Travis Scott meet “Hotline Bling,” and while it’s a perfectly fine mood piece, it’s too short to sound like anything other than an odd curiosity. Given Scott’s influence on Korean music over the past half-decade, “SHOOT!” ends up feeling both without adventure compared to other idols‘songs and less catchy than Korean rappers’ more loyal reproductions. “Wild Wild West” has a country veneer but is limp, cheesy, and unconvincing in its lukewarm hand strokes and “bang, bang, bang” cries. “TENNIS (0: 0)” is even more frivolous: a love song based on an acoustic guitar with a slippery bassline that injects no verve – think of a Korean superstar UI without the charm. ITZY has built themselves up as one of the most exciting bands in K-pop, but they somehow got more uncomfortable being themselves in the process.
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