It’s impossible to completely strip bias from the experience of a new k-pop comeback, but writing daily reviews since 2016 has increased my ability to separate a song from its artist. Carefully listening to hundreds upon hundreds of tracks each year will do that. And in Hoya’s case, it’s allowed me to compartmentalize how I feel about him as a performer. He was an important part of my all-time favorite k-pop act, Infinite. But taken on face value, I’m quickly realizing that his solo material simply isn’t for me.
All Eyes On Me represents exactly the direction I would have expected Hoya to go as a soloist. The song is a very modern, internationally-minded take on r&b — the kind that favors vibe and dance over substantive melody. This template should play to Hoya’s strengths, but I’m not convinced that his newly affected vocal style feels authentic or needed. Over the years, he gained a reputation as an idol rapper who could also sing, and his light, higher-pitched tone carries a great amount of charm when it’s left untouched.
With Eyes, his vocals are processed and slurred in a clear attempt to emulate what passes for “cool” and “urban” these days. Instead, the performance comes across as overly nasally and one-note. That’s a shame, because the song itself holds potential. Its verses offer a sparsely-produced groove that melds hip-hop with r&b before opening up to a delicate pre-chorus that culminates in Eyes’ chant-like chorus. It’s a catchy — if somewhat subdued — combination. And as always, Hoya is a wonder to watch. But taken apart from the video and choreography, the song doesn’t carry quite enough oomph to impress on its own.
At the moment, this MV reached the dramatically poor amount of 149K views, that’s far less than several rookie groups which debuted in the last few years.
When I feared that with Hoya leaving Woollim INFINITE’s doll risked to get broken, I meant exactly this: Tell Me reached 5,7 Mlns views in 3 months (uhm, not exactly a hit considering that any big KPop act is used to pass 10 Mlns in 3 days – or at least weeks), and no-one – apart from some INSPIRIT sub-unit – really seems to care a bit about Hoya.
Moreover, if this is the way Hoya wanted to take to feel free to express himself, it’s rather a mess: his vocals are definitely weak and annoying, his charisma is lower than lots of Produce 101’s contestants, his music style is anonymous and short-lasting.
It’s so-so-so-sad to see this involution in INFINITE’s history, hype and popularity.
If a second edition of The Uni+ would ever take place, they’re probably the first group that needs (and of course deserves) a reboot.
Your words are quite harsh and I think kinda off-mark, too. Infinite is doing pretty well for an 8 year old group that’s had long stretches between comebacks, and they have a stable and dedicated fanbase. They’re still selling upwards of 80k albums, saying they need to go on a survival show to continue is ridiculous.
Groups that have been around as long as Infinite naturally lose their “trendy” factor, sure, but it doesn’t mean they’re failing by any respect.
Yeah, the Unit comment is definitely off-the-mark. Infinite are past the point of proving themselves.
BUT… I do think they need to be mindful about long hiatuses. They’re at a point where they’re essentially re-establishing their brand after a difficult 2017. I’m not sure why we haven’t gotten the rumored repackage yet, but it needs to be out before the end of May. Then, they need another comeback in the fall before enlistment rears its ugly head.
People have short memories, as Top Seed’s sales have proven.
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