What is it about Chinese releases from k-pop stars being consistently terrible? The Chinese music industry is so restrictive to Western listeners that it’s hard to accurately gauge the country’s pop climate, but all c-pop can’t be this bad, right?
As with Jackson’s last solo endeavor (the embarrassing Papillon), I feel like I have to preface this review by restating that I adore him as a k-pop personality and idol. But when it comes down to it, some artists just aren’t meant to embark on a solo career. That’s nothing to be ashamed about. Jackson has so many talents in so many avenues. So far, solo hip-hop star is not one of them. New single Okay may be less cringey and over-the-top as Papillon, but I’d argue that it’s just as bad — and maybe even more unlistenable.
The moody track opens somewhat promisingly, with a hint at Jackson’s untapped potential as a vocalist. But as soon as the droning melody forces him to perform in a more powerful way, the limits of his tone are quickly pushed and the song devolves into a shout-fest devoid of dynamics or nuance. The repetitive “I’m feeling good right now” hook feels lazy and one-note, crying out for a guest vocalist to bring a sense of texture to the mix. But Okay‘s most unforgivable element is its downright oppressive, dirge-like atmosphere. It’s not that every song has to be joyful and bubbly and upbeat, and I get that this is written about a break-up, but Okay doesn’t even leverage its moodiness for dramatic or interesting effect. It’s simply a claustrophobic, depressing piece of music without the skill or imagination to transform that emotion into anything compelling.