Kriesha Chu made her solo debut mere weeks after her stint on last year’s final season of K-Pop Star. There isn’t a whole lot of precedent for successful female solos in the idol driven k-pop industry, unless their style leans heavily toward ballads or indie r&b. But the youthful pop of Trouble offered a different sound, perfectly in keeping with Chu’s bright presence. Follow-up Like Paradise retains some of what made Trouble successful, but comes across as far more trendy.
The song was produced by Flow Blow, who had a huge 2017 with their work for Wanna One and Pentagon. Their signature style is present in Paradise‘s fitful instrumental, which feels slightly at odds with the melody it’s meant to support. For her part, Chu imbues the track with an amiable warmth. Her vocals have a lightness to them that feels fresh and optimistic, and she’s never sounded better than she does on the chorus. Paradise‘s melody throws back to 90’s r&b, blossoming in a way that feels smooth and unforced — with just a taste of funk embellishment at the tail end of the hook.
In contrast to this classic sense of songcraft, Paradise‘s lurching synth percussion aims to capitalize on the EDM/future bass sound that Flow Blow themselves have helped popularized. It’s not that the instrumental sounds drastically out of place here, but it’s easy to imagine how much stronger this song could have been with a more robust arrangement. Maybe if we hadn’t heard these same sounds over and over throughout 2017, Paradise would feel more like the off-kilter r&b mash-up it seeks to be. Instead, it’s a solid pop song undermined by its need to feel generically current.