Song Review: Kang Daniel – What Are You Up To

As Wanna One’s first center and a bonafide variety show star, Kang Daniel is easily the most anticipated of the group’s post-disbandment debuts. He’s spent the past few months locked in a legal struggle with his former agency, but has come out victorious with his own label and (presumably) a new sense of artistic control. His debut solo album, Color On Me, is pitched as a vehicle for Daniel to show his own unique colors. So, why does What Are You Up To (뭐해) sound like everyone else this summer?

One of Kang Daniel’s biggest draws is his warm, goofy personality. Yes, he’s a great dancer and a decent rapper, but casual fans will likely be most familiar with the charm he exudes just by being himself. It’s a shame, then, that What Are You Up To lacks any sense of personality at all. Courtesy of producers Devine Channel (who have already provided several July dirges), What’s instrumental rides on the same washed-out synths and low-energy, trap-adjacent beat that has characterized this summer. Things briefly come alive during the chorus as the percussion strengthens, but the song’s energy stays relatively low.

Within this murky framework, Kang Daniel makes a bid for pop/r&b vocalist, offering an adequate (but dull) performance. Where’s the guy that absolutely killed Energetic’s post-chorus rap break? As with many other Wanna One graduates, I can’t help but think that he would be better off as part of another idol group. Not everyone needs to be a soloist, and judging by What Are You Up To’s been-there, done-that sound, Daniel hasn’t yet found a reason to warrant a solo career. He’s a performer with charisma for days, but What’s one-note melody and lethargic pace does nothing to harness that. Here’s hoping he’ll find his own unique sound in time.

 Hooks 6
 Production 7
 Longevity 6
 Bias 6
 RATING 6.25

Be sure to add your own rating by participating in the poll below!



15 thoughts on “Song Review: Kang Daniel – What Are You Up To

  1. Devine Channel are the worst producers out there. Can’t believe they’re still making songs after the abysmal Open Up from PRODUCE 101 season 2.


    • I hate calling artists/creators the “worst,” but I do admit that whenever I see Devine Channel listed as a producer it doesn’t fill me with confidence. They and I seem to have diametrically opposed tastes when it comes to music.


  2. Basic kpop. A bit two note. OK, maybe 5 note, but not much wider range than that on this song. The synth plunk plunk is really annoying.

    I will disqualify my own answer, however, because I am well outside this demographic. The Kang Daniel popular appeal has always reminded me of the Harry Styles popular appeal, and I am also well outside of the Harry Styles demographic too. If this is what the kids are listening to these days, it is innocuous enough for me to not really mind.


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  4. Agree 100% with your review and everyone else here. I don’t know if it’s just me, but the track feels like it could’ve been VIXX Leo’s B-side track from Romanticism.


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  6. Out of 5 track (okay maybe 4 minus the intro) I like What are you up to the least. But gotta say it’s the safest choice as title track. Maybe I’ll give him more credit since he’s finishing his album within short period, less connection than a company could give. I won’t say I don’t like it at all but the beat is a bit flat to me. I liked Color the most follows by Horizon. I like the fact that he went to RnB than other genre since it’s my favourite genre. I believe he can improve.

    Liked by 1 person

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