As the years have gone on I’ve become a bit disillusioned with the whole Produce 101 format. The show is still an absolute juggernaut, with a far-reaching shadow that touches almost every corner of the K-pop industry. But more often than not, it feels as if the powers-that-be are simply coasting on its popularity to release sub-standard, unimaginative music. Then again, every once and awhile we get an Energetic, so I guess Produce-related songs can’t be discounted automatically.
Truthfully, I never actually made it through the whole Produce 48 season. I watched the fun parts (ie: the initial auditions during the first few episodes), but quickly lost interest after that. So unlike IOI or Wanna One, I really don’t have any personal stake in IZ*ONE. A dynamite debut track might have changed that, but La Vie en Rose (라비앙로즈 ) kind of fizzles every time it seems to be getting started.
The song starts out promisingly, opening with an atmospheric blend of synths and plucked guitar (or harp?). Its verses have a Brave Brothers-esque drive to them, building to a standout pre-chorus that amps up the energy. A series of strong vocal turns seem to point to a dynamic chorus, but instead the instrumental thins out and we get a limp bit of melody that feels more like an afterthought than a hook. This lack of focus ultimately hurts the track, even if its individual parts can be enjoyable. On the plus side, La Vie en Rose is a hundred times more refined than IOI’s debut, and the girls seem to gel well together as a group. Maybe their Energetic (or even Very Very Very) is yet to come.