Song Review: Leo (VIXX) – Romanticism

VIXX’s Leo made his solo debut last summer with the Taemin-esque Touch & Sketch. Now, he finds himself in the same place as many of his third-generation K-pop peers: counting down the months until mandatory military conscription. VIXX has already seen its leader, N, enlist earlier this year. Leo is only four months younger, so I’d expect Romanticism to be his last musical work before hiatus. Given this, I wish the song was stronger.

Romanticism follows the post-2016 VIXX template, employing a moody blend of synth, future bass and trap elements. Fans of Scentist and Shangri-La should find plenty to love here, but this is one K-pop style that does absolutely nothing for me. After a murky opening, Romanticism finds its laid-back groove and maintains it throughout the rest of the track. There are many elements within the instrumental, but none are overpowering. Instead, the song glides confidently without making any waves. This causes the verses to blend with the chorus, stifling any momentum Romanticism might build. In a year where male-fronted K-pop seems to becoming more ambitious in sound, a song this subdued could easily get lost in the shuffle.

Romanticism’s high point is its melodic chorus, even if it’s a shoulder shrug instead of an exclamation. The sauntering melody is a good match for Leo’s always-pristine vocals. There’s a classic feel about it, which contrasts with the trendy production. Given different instrumentation, I could imagine this becoming quite addicting. Instead, Romanticism feels like a release aimed at the fans — a position I find myself drifting further away from with each passing single.

 Hooks 8
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 6



6 thoughts on “Song Review: Leo (VIXX) – Romanticism

  1. as a pretty obviously branded VIXX fan, i feel like i kinda HAVE to reply to this post… and to be honest, i agree a lot with what you’ve been saying about VIXX’s music for a while now.

    for me, Shangri-La was the highest point of VIXX’s new, moody synth sound, and it’s been frustrating to push through the follow-up releases on only the power of fan bias. growth/evolution is something i really value when it comes to kpop, and while the VIXX members have been showing personal development (of vocal skills, personal style, gaming skills… lol), it is SO disheartening to see how little they’re pushing the envelope of the genre/industry as a whole. like especially in the context where we just got to see that ATEEZ could still inject fun and ingenuity into tired genre tropes… i want that energy for my favorite group too! but i was never going to expect that with Leo (i’m still surprised whenever he manages to write a somewhat upbeat chorus… he just loooooves to write melancholic ballads) and now i think VIXX’s concept-driven comebacks will be placed on hold for a few years. fingers crossed that they’ll (and everyone in kpop will) have bucked the (over)moodiness in their music in a few years time!

    in an attempt to actually stir up some conversation, i just realized that i’d… absolutely love to see Leo cover Xia Junsu’s Flower or release something similar. Junsu had released Flower after a few years of performing musicals, and Leo’s at a pretty similar point in his career. also… they’ve both played Death/Der Tod in the Elisabeth musical, so it’d be another cool connection for an old VIXX/DB5K fan like me!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a big VIXX fan, and I like Shangri-La, Scentist, and Touch & Sketch along with their older work. But Romanticism feels like a less memorable rehash of Touch & Sketch. Touch & Sketch took me on more of a journey: it held me in suspense and surprised me. Romanticism did none of that.

    I’m going to miss VIXX while they’re off in the military. I think the void they leave as concept kings could be filled by ATEEZ, though. Maybe ATEEZ could become concept princes?
    They already have the pirate concept, good stylists, versatility, and strong charisma/expressions, which I think are essential (a la Hongbin acting his heart out). ATEEZ also has a raw energy that reminds me of early VIXX. I really hope KQ takes them in more concept-oriented directions!

    Thanks for the review~

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For me, VIXX is the single most King of the Concept for all kpop groups. Absolutely unique and fantastic and well-crafted, stunning visual and matching choreography.

    And then the songs on the other hand are well-polished songs I seem to forget shortly after hearing it. Believe, by this time, I really should know how Shangri La goes. And every time I re-listen, think oh yes, and then whoosh its gone.

    This song is the same for me.


  4. Man has VIXX fallen down my personal bias list (reference intended? lol). They were one of the first kpop groups I ever stanned, but now whenever they do something it just rolls right out of my consciousness within minutes. I still haven’t listened to any of Ravi’s recent stuff though he used to be one of my UBs.

    But this song actually did do something for me – your review got me to look to your “Top Ten VIXX Title Tracks” post from three years ago and relish the days when VIXX released dark high-octane pop. Man those were the days (that I never got to experience because I got into the fandom after Shangri-La was released)!

    Oh, but I actually like Shangri-La. Though that’s because it was the first song I heard from them, so it has that nostalgia factor.


  5. Pingback: Song Review: Leo (VIXX) – Losing Game | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  6. Pingback: Track Overview: Leo (VIXX) – Shedding Sport – Hits 1000

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.