The story of Katie Kim’s long-incubated debut is a frustrating one, to say the least. The husky-voiced singer won season four of K-Pop Star way back in 2015 — a series designed to catapult its victors toward instant fame. Kim ended up signing with YG Entertainment, where her career was essentially held hostage for over three years. It took a break with the agency to finally see the release of debut single Remember. But three years is a lifetime when it comes to popular culture. For all the accolades that go along with winning a survival series, it feels like Katie Kim is starting back at zero.
Knowing all of this makes me want to root for Remember’s success. However, I’m going to have a hard time doing so. This is the kind of song I can objectively classify as “strong,” even as I subjectively don‘t really enjoy it. Remember is very Westernized in its approach (and not just because it‘s delivered entirely in English). It adheres to modern pop’s preferences — fitful and haunting with a strong focus on mood. Its instrumental utilizes a creeping, minimalist beat and percussive synth to spark surprising drama from its skeletal frame.
Kim’s vocals are just as spare, delivered in a way that feels more like a monologue than a pop song. No melodic line lasts for long, clipped to match the fragmented production. She’s a gifted vocalist, and Remember’s vampy chorus hints at that immense potential. But it feels like every time the song wants to break out of its tight structure, it’s pulled back again. As a performance piece, this is quite effective. And those who enjoy this particular style will find much to love. Sadly, I just can’t get into songs like this. I’ll admire in the moment, but I probably won’t press play very often.