So 2021 has been a year of subverted expectations. We’ve been duped many a time by teasers and comeback descriptions that promise greatness but resort to rather lacklustre or underwhelming production or tracks. But at the same time we’ve also been surprised many a time with tracks that initially didn’t seem very exciting before release but really exceeded or in this case, subverted my expectations on release.
In this segment, I’ll be looking at a few tracks who remain the biggest subverters of expectations over the past few months with an initial or expected rating and what I actually think of the track after release. There are a few surprise down below so be prepared!
AKMU – Hey Kid, Close Your Eyes
Though I’ve always liked AKMU’s music, I’ve never really fallen head over heels for any of their singles apart from Dinosaur. They’ve always been one of those groups I’ve appreciated but never been sitting on the edge of my seat for a new release. That’s why despite the hype surrounding their full length album, I had remained rather neutral and while that sentiment translated to most of the songs, the gorgeous Hey kid, Close your eyes surpassed all expectations with some instantly gripping icy synths and an extended central hook that makes expert use of the sibling duo’s stunning vocals.
Expected Rating: 8/10 –> Actual Rating: 9/10
Ciipher – Blind
After their train wreck of a debut with one of the years worst tracks, Ciipher surpassed all expectations with their followup Blind. This is basically a produce concept track and for someone who loves that kind of sound, there’s very little more that I could ask for. Though the performance and melody could definitely use a boost, that incredible central guitar riff is more than enough to compensate and turns Blind into one of the years standouts.
Expected Rating: 7.25/10 –> Actual Rating: 8.75/10
Key – Hate that… (Feat. Taeyeon)
Though I adore both of the performers featured in this track, I came into Hate That… with rather low expectations. That’s because these kinds of mid-tempo’s can go either way. And most of the time they end up being painfully boring. Thankfully, Hate That… is fantastic, making great use of both performers vocal tones and lending them to a gorgeous melody that is as memorable as it is emotive.
Expected Rating: 7.5/10 –> Actual Rating: 8.5/10
ITZY – LOCO
After the disastrous Mafia In The Morning and rather underwhelming teasers, Loco seemed to be another messy, hookless noise fest. But thankfully, Loco pulls much more from the groups great first four singles and though it doesn’t carve out its own unique identity, its carnivalesque chorus is just a fun time all around. This is what ITZY do best but as much as I like it, I would love for them to venture into more ambitious sounds.
Expected Rating: 6.5/10 –> Actual Rating: 8.5/10
SOMI – Dumb Dumb
Now I know many people didn’t like this song and I too thought I wouldn’t but after a few listens, I realised that I really dig Dumb Dumb. It’s a track that knows what it wants to be and aligns more with western pop than modern k-pop and that’s ok. The verses are nostalgic in a generic 2019 kind of way and the drop chorus is honestly Teddy’s best drop in years. This isn’t going to win any awards but is a great piece of bite sized pop.
Expected Rating: 6/10 –> Actual Rating: 8.5/10
YOUNG K – Guard You
Another divisive song, Guard You has managed to win me over after a rather lukewarm initial response. It’s another track that won’t win any awards for originality but its driving, emotive chorus sounds like its been ripped right out of a great anime OST. And knowing my taste, this is a complete W.
Expected Rating: 7.5/10 –> Actual Rating: 8.5/10
BTOB – Outsider
Though it’s home to an incredibly exciting, scuzzy instrumental backbone that was heavily previewed in the teasers, Outsider as a whole doesn’t really go anywhere. The guys sound excellent but the lack of instrumental variety hurts the track too much to really warrant repeated listens. This sense of sameness prevents an otherwise strong track from truly becoming something special. Especially when Monsta X’s phenomenal Gambler did the same thing but better only a few months ago.
Expected Rating: 9/10 –> Actual Rating: 8/10
Golden Child – Ra Pam Pam
After the immense one-two punch of Burn It and Breathe, Ra Pam Pam felt rather disappointing. Its reggae-ton was initially promising but its chanted hook hasn’t aged the most gracefully. Golden Child try their best to sell the song and do a damn good job at it and while the melody could have been sharper, it’s a track that feels quite slight when compared to their chill inducing Burn it which did this whole thing but much better.
Expected Rating: 8.75/10 –> Actual Rating: 7.75/10
Lisa (BLACKPINK) – Lalisa
Now I know I said this was a segment about songs that subverted expectations but the thing is I came into Lalisa with 0 expectations and it still somehow managed to underwhelm so hard that I was honestly dumbfounded. I haven’t really liked any of the BP solo’s but Lalisa was so shocking that it made me appreciate Solo and On The Ground a whole lot more. It’s just a noisy, disjointed mess with terrible hooks and a performance that feels too put on and try hard to even leave an impact. Very disappointing.
Expected Rating: 6/10 –> Actual Rating: 3.25/10
MCND – Movin’
MCND’s Crush has been one of the years biggest growers and as such, I was very excited for Movin‘. Unfortunately, Movin’ is one of the groups most generic efforts, carried almost completely by the groups natural charisma and energy but without the kind of instantly gripping hooks that that made their other efforts so addictive. It’s a nice, little fun track but I’ve rarely returned to it since release even though I had expected to love it.
Expected Rating: 8.5/10 –> Actual Rating: 6.5/10
Red Velvet – Queendom
After a near 2 year hiatus, Red Velvet finally returned to the stage with the honestly rather boring Queendom. Now there isn’t anything inherently wrong with the track but for something dubbed as a momentous return for one of Korea’s biggest groups, Queendom is just super boring. The teasers seemed promising but the final results barely leaves a mark. Something that really let me down both on release and further on.
Expected Rating: 8.5/10 –> Actual Rating: 7/10
Yang Yoseop (Highlight) – Brain
As one of my favourite vocalists of the second generation, my high hopes for Yoseop’s solo were immediately dashed with the very boring Brain. This was the kind of mid-tempo I mentioned while talking about Hate That… earlier in the segment and that’s why I think its complete bore. It goes nowhere, has a generic boring melody and is purely carried by Yoseop’s performance.
Expected Rating: 8/10 –> Actual Rating: 6/10