Kim Donghan is a self-professed Taemin fanboy, and his music is at its best when it leans heavily into those influences. He released two solo singles last year, and each left me with very different reactions. The Taemin-esque Sunset rode on an addictive early-summer groove, but the overly trendy Good Night Kiss totally fizzled. New single Focus splits the difference, but its strong points are more than enough to compensate for overly moody verses.
As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, I find the lurching, washed-out tones of future bass to be some of the ugliest-sounding music in recent memory, and Focus’s verses borrow heavily from the style. Rather than catch fire and command attention, they feel like a lawnmower struggling to start. This hinders the song’s overall effect. Just when you’re really starting to get into the rhythm, the momentum suddenly shifts in dreary directions.
Luckily, Focus is the rare song that rebounds from this underwhelming arrangement. The groove-based chorus is simply too strong to be ignored, and it’s followed by an even better instrumental refrain that pierces through the murk with a bright, brilliant synthesized vocal line. This hook opens the track, and instantly grabbed my attention. The tempo also picks up during the pre-chorus, which offers a sense of build that contrasts with the lockstep structure of the chorus. Throughout it all, Kim Donghan sounds more convincing and confident than ever before. His tone is not as unique as Taemin’s, but the producers arrange it well, chopping up his vocals to create an off-kilter sense of rhythm.
I try to listen to the song before I read your review. Somehow, my mind went to Taemin as well. The difference is that Taemin has a lot more charisma, even though he comes across as more of an introvert, and Taemin would have better, more unique choreography.
I thought the song is slightly above average for kpop. That hook is nice, but it needs to be used more often, or with a variation. There are a pile what I call “one word in English” kpop songs, who intone that word in the chorus as if saying that one word makes it all meaningful. (Usually with an excess of drops.) This one didn’t bother me in that way, as the word “Focus” was linked to the choreo and had more chorus lines surrounding it.
As a performance, I thought is was average kpop. I don’t know this guy from Adam, I don’t follow the project bands, so you could have said he was from the vocal line of xyz pdq Boyz and it would mean nothing to me. Now after seeing him for the first time, I still wouldn’t be able to pick him out. So as a soloist, I would put him average.
XYZ PDQ Boyz would be a better group name than some these days.
You’re definitely right that he’s missing that indelible x-factor that someone like Taemin has, but this song is clicking with me more and more each day. Something about the bright synth line right after the chorus just gets me.
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