Song Review: IVE – I AM

With 2022’s incredible one two punch of Love Dive and After Like, IVE quickly established themselves as mega stars domestically whilst still delivering on the promise of some absolutely killer music. With both those singles comfortably slotting themselves within my top 3 favourite K-pop songs of last year, it set a precedent, one that pre-release Kitsch personally failed to truly live up to despite its expected dominance on the charts. But bar that slight hiccup, lead single I AM see’s the girls back on form, delivering a towering pop anthem that breathes new life into 2023’s stale musical slate.

From its opening moments, I AM resounds with a palpable sense of confidence. The production is riveting, opening with a brief flurry of strings and a thrilling synth guitar hybrid before blending together a scuzzy synth and percussive backing to deliver a wonderfully true statement of intent. It’s one of the most exciting soundscapes the group have tackled yet, filled to the brim with goodies that extend into the vocal melodies too. The “I’m on my way” hook itself is incredibly strong and could have easily stood as the central hook of another track. I also love how the verses have a real triumphant energy to them, coasting forward with a sense of stately buoyancy that both excites and boosts those dopamine levels. The vocal performance further supplements this incredibly tight arrangement, resounding with a sense of real confidence and effortless charisma. Attributes previewed in past efforts but ones that truely come into focus here. From the gorgeous harmonies to actually using Liz’s vocal prowess alongside Yujin’s extended high notes, it’s an utterly thrilling brew.

And then there’s the chorus. A moment that transforms I AM from a great song into something truly special. In a K-pop landscape that’s been dominated by a flurry of a-melodic centrepieces and momentum stripping anti-drops, I AM‘s centrepiece stands out like a stunning rose in an otherwise weed infested garden. IVE are no strangers to thrilling centrepieces with the likes of Eleven and After Like but I think they’ve truly exceeded the mark with this one. From the vocal layering to the fully fleshed out melody and of course the warbling synths that underline it, this is by far one of the strongest chorus’ I’ve heard in a while. It’s more than abit Eurovision-esque in execution but as someone who’s an absolute sucker for that sound, that’s always a win. And while I would have loved to hear the hook repeated back to back at least one time, it still hits with the same level of ferocity and bite on each and every repetition.

Repetitions that continue to further the utterly enthralling nature of the track, one that brings me back to the days when K-pop wasn’t afraid of massive choruses and goosebump inducing vocal arrangements. Even the obligatory trap breakdown is dealt with such panache that not only is it easy to ignore, but actually remains quite enjoyable. And while I AM may not be anything truly unique, in a climate such of this, boy does it sound monumental. Couple that with one of the most sonically stimulating bridges of the past few years and you’ve got a track that cements itself as an instant classic. One that continues IVE’s near flawless run whilst also acting as a true statement of intent for the rest of the industry. It’s been a while since I’ve been so stirred up by a K-pop song and boy am I happy it’s this one.

Verses: 9

Chorus: 10

Production: 10

Performance: 9

Final Rating: 9.5 / 10


One thought on “Song Review: IVE – I AM

  1. I haven’t been this obsessed with a K-Pop song since ONF’s Beautiful Beautiful, this song really is that good. A little disappointed that they don’t really seem like they will perform it as a full group or with live vocals, but I Am is musically dope.


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