Review

Song Review: A.C.E – Under Cover

A.C.E spent much of their 2018 on hiatus in Korea, touring the world with only a handful of songs to their name. I was lucky enough to see them twice last year, but as much as I love the guys, I have to admit there are only so many times you can hear the same pop song covers before they start to feel reductive. Luckily, the long wait for new material was worth it. A.C.E have returned with their first real showstopper in the form of the genre-mashing Under Cover.

For me, a song like Under Cover is quintessential K-pop. It’s bolstered by crunchy rock guitar, but it’s not a straight-up rock track. Its verses are driven mostly by hip-hop, but it’s not a rap track either. Under Cover is a blend of so many different elements, fused together to create one dynamic, smack-you-in-the-face blast of energy. In other words, while so many of their peers are serving under-cooked slices of tropical pop or appetizer-worthy deep house, A.C.E have offered up the full course.

Under Cover covers so much ground in its 3+ minutes. The swaggering hip-hop that opens the track had me worried for a moment, but the verse is quickly joined by metal guitar to invigorating effect. It takes awhile to get to the first chorus, but it’s an exciting climb, stuffed with surprises. A vocal-heavy pre-chorus clears the air as most of the instrumentation empties out. This gives added bombast to the electrifying hook, which pounds with the kind of over-the-top drama that only K-pop can nail quite so brilliantly.

A.C.E prove themselves a match for Under Cover’s ambitious blend of influences, captivating with impressive vocals and undeniable presence. Their 2017 work hinted at this potential, but Under Cover feels like the full realization of their skills. As the song throws everything it can at its thrilling, climactic bridge, it’s the guys that really sell the end product. In the end, it all comes together to create that rarest of 2019 K-pop singles: a track that is utterly satisfying from beginning to end.

 Hooks 9
 Production 10
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 9.25

~

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22 thoughts on “Song Review: A.C.E – Under Cover

  1. I absolutely LOVED Under Cover, even more than I loved Callin’ which is a high bar. I had high expectations from the teasers and this blew all of them away. I was mildly headbanging to it in the library today because I couldn’t even control myself completely. It has a strong metal influence and reminds me of Dreamcatcher’s better music yet still maintains its own flavor. It’s a strong candidate for 2019 SOTY, possibly even beating out Wake Up imo. I

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my god holy cow hey wow THIS is why I listen to kpop. Everything and the kitchen sink all thrown in, relentless, (_s) out, … except for the soft quiet bits, and yet it somehow all works.
    It’s going to take me a while to unpack it all, which I will do happily on repeat.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. God, I would KILL to hear this live! I’d even rate it higher. How did they manage to do… what they did? I can’t really describe how I felt when I first listened, but I definitely fell in love just a few seconds in. This song gives us all it’s got, and the members really do sell it. More like this, please!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t know how to explain this very specific feeling, but I’ll try my best:

    It’s a true 2012 B.A.P. They pulled a History. I don’t say this lightly, but ACE have achieved a 2014 100% 심장이 뛴다moment. 2009-2012 G-Dragon songwriting hegemony quality. I’m absolutely floored.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m back to say that I stayed up an extra hour or so listening to this, and probably would have rated it even higher than 9.25 just for the pure joy I got from listening to it the first time around.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m baited with the plucking of a guitar at the beginning of a new kpop song so often that I kept telling myself this song was going to let me down at some point. I was so sure there would be your bog-standard electronic drop-and-chant ‘chorus’ but I’ve never been so happy to be wrong. It says a lot about current trends that I was almost in a state of disbelief that a song was satisfying on every level. It totally reminded me of a 2nd gen song, blending genres together for a hard hitting tornado of a song. Ace showed their potential with Take Me Higher (real bass guitar!!) but they’ve proven themselves to be a formidable act here.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I never thought another boy group would have the edge of Cactus and Callin’, and I figured even ACE would have a tough job following up on their early material, like so many other groups. I’d pretty much given up completely on boy group releases for the past few years. But this? This release actually has me excited about new boy group material again. For the love of all that is holy, I hope it does well, because, good god, what a precedent it would set for future releases from multiple groups.

    Like

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  11. I didn’ t check it out before because I didn’ t enjoy their previous songs so much, but this blew me away! Kinda mad at myself for not listening to it earlier!

    Like

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