Though never releasing one as a title track, throughout the years VIXX have recorded some great ballads. I’m thinking especially of songs like Love Letter and this year’s Badbye. So when it was announced that their new Japanese single would be a ballad, I wasn’t overly concerned. But unfortunately, Hana-Kaze (Flower Wind) tends towards the generic when it should be soaring.
VIXX are a very talented vocal group, and don’t always get the chance to show that off. Hana-Kaze offers an unadorned platform for their voices, and that is probably its biggest strength. Beyond that, it’s hard to pick anything particularly unique about the song. The production is standard ballad string section, swelling just enough to supply a hint of drama. The chorus is pretty but unremarkable, though it practically begs for a hands-in-the-air crowd sway. I kept waiting for something to truly take off. Just as the middle eight seems ready to explode into gospel bombast, it pulls back and ushers in a final chorus that feels just like the other ones.
Ballads are rarely as striking as their uptempo counterparts, but Hana-Kaze still feels like a missed opportunity, especially as VIXX’s first foray into this style for promotional purposes. Still, Japan loves its ballads, so this is probably a shrewd business move if nothing else. I do think that a re-recording of Badbye would have made a far superior choice for a single, though.