I feel pangs of guilt every time I sit down to write a review of Chungha’s music because I just can’t be very objective. I try hard not to be biased against artists or groups, even if their work has been universally awful. Chungha’s music has not been awful at all — it’s actually been quite solid. But, I’ve struggled to enjoy most of it because of the way her vocals have been arranged. She’s clearly a talented singer, but most of her material seems to force her voice into styles that don’t suit it.
Gotta Go (벌써 12시) switches things up from her usual dance-pop sound, opening with a synth sample that feels as if it could have been lifted straight from BLACKPINK’s Ddu-Du Ddu-Du. It’s a welcome twist for Chungha, and harnesses her undeniable charisma. The instrumental feels almost as if it had been designed for a 2018-era boy group, lurching and rattling with trap-influenced percussion and atmospheric electronics. As exhausted as I am with this aesthetic, it’s kind of cool to hear a female performer tackle the moody sound.
Unfortunately, Gotta Go doesn’t really go anywhere. I applaud the song for drawing out its two-part chorus rather than resorting to an instrumental drop, but the melody here is too hesitant. Rather than kicking the song up another level, it kind of gets lost in the shuffle. More expressive production would have helped, as the core synth sample quickly grows repetitive and loses its impact. But just as I would have expected, it’s the vocal that ultimately loses me. I wish I could enjoy it. I want to enjoy it. But, something about the particular register they’ve got Chungha singing in just hurts my ears. Shorter phrasing (Love U), layered arrangements (Cherry Kisses) and a groovy airiness (Whatcha Doin’) have all helped tease out the best from her vocals in the past. With Gotta Go, I feel like Chungha and I are back to square one.
I found with Roller Coaster that her vocal register really hurt my ears, but for some reason this song seems to have more rounded sounds which work for me better? It’s my favourite of her songs so far, but I agree that they have her singing in vocal registers which just aren’t the best.
Ughhh it’s times like this that I find your reviews so disappointing. Despite your taste in her vocals you still can’t seem to be that objective I find.
Personally I think this is Chungha’s masterpiece. Sultry, sexy, strong and so well produced with great melody and hooks throughout. Taking aspects from trop house and electro pop and fusing them together amazingly well.
Rollercoaster is easily in my top 5 songs from last year (BEP is probably my fave producer in kpop right now…aaand I just did a quick google and read just now that this is their production too so no wonder I love it).
I can already tell this will be a fave track of the year for me too.
I hope you can overcome your distaste for her vocal timbre because she definitely has skills in the vocal department that are superior to many other female soloists that you dont seem to take issue with, I definitely respect talent over tone as it’s something you can’t REALLY change. I realise this is the “bias” list but occasionally I think you can struggle to be objective.
Regardless. All the best for the new year, I’ll still be back to whinge when you bash my queens haha.
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Well, I’ve gotta be honest, right? I don’t think anyone would want to read my reviews if I was being inauthentic just for the sake of objectivity. That’s why I prefaced my thoughts with an apology of sorts. When it comes to the arrangement of her vocals, I can’t be objective. I wish I could, and I’m honestly jealous of those who aren’t bothered by the register they’ve got her singing in.
But, to be fair, I’ve actually complimented Chungha’s vocals in my past three reviews of her material. When paired with the right song and style, I truly think she’s magnetic. This song and performance just didn’t work for me. With Roller Coaster, the song did but the vocal didn’t. That’s my honest take on it, but I’m glad that you enjoy both so much. God knows there are songs that I absolutely love and nobody else seems to care about, so I get the frustration!
Don’t get me wrong I like hearing your point of view but I guess I expected after this long you would just learn to accept her vocal timbre as part of her as an artist. There are so many distinct voices in Kpop and I guess it jars me a little to hear higher specifically female vocal timbre be critiqued like that. Maybe it triggers a feminist bone in me and as as performer myself I guess I empathise a bit with her.
Tone is not a part of the voice that you can really change without drastic technique changes (which can skew your voice to a different genre sound entirely or be unsafe for your vocal health) it does disappoint me that you continue to dedicate amounts of it to your article to excuse the inevitable comment that you find it grating.
I don’t mean to insinuate ill will but I hope you can keep a more open mind to such things in the future.
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um, it’s a song review. Reviews by their very nature are not objective.
completely agree with you; her previous releases were so upbeat and almost celebratory that her vocals were second to the fun feel-good vibe the song as a whole carried.
but this time around, the vibe is off – its like shes singing one of her peppy songs (especially in a key this high) when the instrumental (and the entire concept) obviously contradicts her. shes a really talented singer but i wish she would sometimes say heck to being pitch perfect and put some power in that voice of hers; not singing from technique, but from her heart. its hard to *feel* what shes singing. heroine, for example, is such a perfect song cause sunmi is able to sing all kinds of emotions. gotta go, on the other hand, makes me wonder if im supposed to feel anything at all.
the prechorus especially is so boring to me it tires me out. can you tell im a bit disappointed?
You get the feeling that more thought goes into video than the actual song! Agree with you on the vocal, there’s a honk in her upper mids that really grates on me too
I don’t get the backlash: this is one of the best beat ever made.