In a first for the Produce series, girl group IZ*ONE will be promoting actively in both Korea and Japan. As jaded as I’ve become with these survival series, I’ve got to admit that this is a pretty shrewd business decision. The girls have already made a strong mark in Korea with La Vie en Rose (though I think I’m the only listener in the world who thought the song was just *okay*) , but their charms seem even better suited to Japan. And unlike most Korean groups who move into J-pop, IZ*ONE have fully embraced the sound and style of the culture with Suki to Iwasetai (‘好きと言わせたい).
If you’ve heard any notable J-pop girl group release of the past few years, you’ll have an idea of how Suki sounds. Swelling instrumentation, layered vocals and a sense of grandness all contribute to that uniquely Japanese sound. The song strongly recalls work by the popular 46 groups (especially Nogizaka), which is not at all what I had expected from an act spawned from a Korean survival show. After all, only three of IZ*ONE’s twelve members hail from Japan. The fact that its Korean trainees could adapt to such a specific sound is quite impressive.
As far as the song goes, Suki impresses with its euphoric chorus and lush instrumental. A catchy piano line opens the track, setting the stage for the dramatic flourishes that are yet to come. The surging pre-chorus borrows from K-pop’s EDM obsession, but the robust chorus brings a classic pop touch. Individually, the vocals aren’t particularly galvanizing, but like so much J-pop, they’re layered together to forge an ear-catching sonic palette. Wall-of-sound harmonies are omnipresent, and give the track a lilting sense of ephemeral power. That description is a bit of an oxymoron, but it’s the best way to describe this type of song. Its balance between delicate and dynamic is skillfully harnessed by an engaging song structure that knows what it’s doing.