Though I consider IZ*ONE to be the most consistent of all the winning produce groups, their material is still incredibly hit or miss for me. And while I have enjoyed most of their Korean work, their last single Fiesta was the complete opposite of a grower becoming more grating as the months went on. The group are evidently very talented but it’s becoming more and more apparent that their knockout first 3 singles ( La Vie en Rose, Suki to Iwasetai and Violeta) might just be their peak. Since then the group have released a number of ”ok” to just plain out terrible songs. Secret Story of the Swan (환상동화) is an attempt at something new and is an experiment that works in fits and starts.
When I think of the word swan, I conjure up images of a lighter, more symphonic, majestic or ephemeral sound. Something in the vein of Oh My Girls masterful Closer or the incredible In The Same Place from the original season of produce. With this in mind, my expectations for the release grew. Up till now IZ*ONE have had a much more refined and chic’ concept and this aesthetic fell right into their wheelhouse. That being said, there have been multiple songs titled Black Swan that haven’t adhered to this template and have gone onto to become stone cold classics. So I wouldn’t be surprised or upset if they headed different musical direction. Secret Story of the Swan however isn’t an instant classic, coming off more like an Everglow single than something the group would release. From the opening blast of big room house EDM loops to the vocal delivery and even the rather one note hook, everything seems like it belonged an Everglow single. That’s not necessarily a criticism but it does seem like an odd musical direction for IZ*ONE to follow.
When it comes to my qualms with the track, it’s that it just feels disjointed and repetitive. The catchiest part of the track for me is easily the first verse, which stitches together a number of instantly catchy hooks and feels like it’s building to something really grand. What we get instead is that noisy big room x moombahton drop and rather grating ”Swan, swan, swan” hook that’s repeated way too many times throughout the track. I’m not as tired of moombahton as many seem to be so it should be very obvious which elements of the track I like more. However after the first chorus, the rest of the track pretty much stays the same. There’s barely any difference until the exciting bridge comes back to revive the tracks falling momentum. Swan will have its admirers and has already achieved #1 on almost every chart, but as far as i’m concerned, it’s easily the groups weakest Korean single yet.
Final Rating: 7 / 10