As a former member of girl group Kara, it’s ironic that Nicole has been giving us more Kara-esque releases over the past few years than Kara itself. This is due, in part, to her continuing work with Sweetune, whose bright, poppy style is ideally suited for the Japanese market.
As I’ve mentioned before, Sweetune are my absolute favorite producers in the kpop world, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be critical of them as well. Most of their stuff is among the best examples of what propulsive, melodic pop music can be, but more recently, they’ve dabbled in a more plodding, mid-tempo song form that isn’t as much to my liking. Don’t Stop is kind of a mix of both styles, but ultimately its energy is stuck at one level.
The funk guitars and cascading synths are perfect as usual, but the track is missing a sense of forward motion. It’s like a yo-yo, moving between verse and chorus with a regulated, unchanging rhythm. You get the sense that any part of the song could be cut and pasted into different sections without the track changing much at all. For this reason, I think Sweetune is more successful producing groups, who can naturally provide dynamics and momentum as their members trade off lines. Nicole does a perfectly serviceable job with a fine song, but her ability to elevate it further is limited through no fault of her own.