iKON made quite a splash when they debuted in late 2015, but 2018 has really been their coming out party. Not only was Love Scenario one of this year’s biggest hits, but its chill hip-hop sound has gone on to inform many boy group releases since. Its chorus was an earworm to end all earworms, which makes new single Killing Me’s beat-drop-as-chorus structure somewhat surprising.
By all standards, Killing Me (죽겠다) is a hype track — but it’s an odd one. Rather than build toward energetic peaks, the song just kind of builds, and builds… and builds, without any real climax. The fractured, experimental instrumental hook at its core is likely meant to be the song’s centerpiece, but it feels more like an afterthought to the melody that came before it. Killing Me does wrap up with one of those trademark (ie: overdone) YG chants, but even this feels disjointed from the rest of the song.
Luckily, Killing Me’s sing-song verses have the same catchy appeal that made Love Scenario so massive. They would have been even more effective with an instrumental that didn’t feel so bare bones. The repeated synth loop promises dance floor drive, but the beat is too tentative. An injection of bass would have given the track a grander, more compelling boost. As it stands, Killing Me’s tempo remains fitful throughout, constantly pulling back when it could have exploded. Still, the song is successful on the strength of its performance alone, and feels like a worthy successor to the hit that came before it. I just wish it wasn’t suffering from such an odd identity crisis.