Song Review: iKON – Killing Me

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.

 Hooks 8
 Production 7
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8



7 thoughts on “Song Review: iKON – Killing Me

  1. Funny you say that because this song pulls some of the exact same tricks as Love Scenario. The real chorus melody is right there at the beginning, you know totally unassuming, but that is the chorus melody. The drop is the second half of the chorus really. You’ll notice after the bridge the “chant” is actually the bass drop/second half of chorus with vocals over top, and then it reverts back to the original chorus melody for the closing line. Which is literally what Love Scenario does, except slightly more complicated with that little extra addition. So really the bass drop is a trick, so that they can hit you with a hook and then build suspense and then hit you with ANOTHER hook, and then go back to the original. Very clever and tricky, really. I’m not even sure I’ve got the terminology right but the idea’s there anyways.

    That aside, this is like, production porn. Amazing. Fantastic. Good god. Genius. Someone knows their way around a mixing engineer’s desk.

    TL;DR Extremely similar to Love Scenario on lots of counts, but better in almost every way. What a song. I have never liked iKon but this is peak YG boy group. I am duly shocked. Too shocked to elaborate. Ask me tomorrow.


    • Yeah, I hear all of that… but the song still doesn’t blow me away. I’ve been trying to figure out why, and I’ve settled on these two reasons:

      1) In case it wasn’t obvious, for me melody trumps everything else. A song can have immaculate and complex production, but if it’s not rooted in a memorable melody, I’m less likely to get into it. The hooks here are fine, but I don’t find them particularly engaging or novel.

      2) This isn’t unique to iKON, but more and more I’m getting so sick of this style of K-pop. Call me simple, but sometimes I wish dance tracks could just be dance tracks, without all the constant tempo shifts and drops. There’s something to be said for finding a high-energy groove and sticking with it throughout an entire song. We don’t hear much of this in K-pop nowadays — especially when it comes to boy groups. While complexity in arrangement can make for an interesting listen, I actually miss some of the more straightforward K-pop of eras past. Those songs still blended genres and styles, but always built to a monster hook with a cohesive energy.

      Anyways, two-part rant over. I do find Killing Me to be quite strong, but I wish I was as bowled over by it as so many others seem to be.


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  3. Killing Me is a great example of a track that’s stronger with its fanchant. I already enjoy the drop section of the chorus more than the average drop simply because it’s a little more interesting than most, but hearing the live clip with the fanchant gives me goosebumps.


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