This May, A.C.E released one of 2019’s most thrilling title tracks: the rock-tinged, attitude-driven Under Cover. The guys seemed to have found their niche, taking the intensity of their debut-era material and fusing it to a complex, inventive instrumental. Their new release Savage (삐딱선) proves why I’m so adamant about idol groups finding the right collaborators and sticking with them. A.C.E remain as talented and charismatic as ever, but this track is just not good. In fact, I don’t think I can remember a more precipitous quality drop between back-to-back singles.
Savage, like most of their new album, is produced by a trio of new composers — only one of which was involved with Under Cover. Their relative inexperience shows. The track “goes hard,” but going hard does not automatically make for a palatable song. Savage is structured around one of the most obnoxious drops of the year, distorted and repetitive and just plain ugly. It’s the aural equivalent of a jackhammer, or a fire drill. Under Cover proved that a smartly-constructed pop song can harness this same kind of energy in interesting, addictive ways. Savage blusters about with obvious intentions, making it feel more like a poser than the real thing.
A.C.E themselves aren’t given much to do here. The song has very little melody, and what does exist isn’t developed at all. The guys are left to cast off lame couplets about how cool and swaggy they are, often with a generous (ie: unbearable) level of autotune thrown over the top. None of it really equates to singing, and it lacks the nimble flow of a good hip-hop track. Instead, Savage is one big, lumbering hissy fit. It’s a chore to listen to, and an absolute waste of A.C.E’s considerable potential.
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To borrow a Mymagoogle expression: Under Cover autoplays right after this song, and the comaparison definitely isn’t a favorable one. At all.
Don’t have much more to say except whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy
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Hey, I was just going to say that!
I will put my hand up to say that I was very disappointed with this track.
That phrase should be banned “put you hands up”. Ugh.
I shall quote Xeno: “Doof” and “Oof”
Oh, one good thing happened today. I watched Masked singer with Wendy the Witch today, and this fabulous young singer disguised as a tasty dish of delectable crab sings. His name is Woo Jin Young, and apparently he won Mix9 (that disaster of a show) and is in D1ce (where he is totally wasted).
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That’s a name I’ve resigned myself to never hearing again, hah. Poor guy’s had a rough time of it. He was also in broduce, where he provided one of the show’s most iconic soundbytes (Woo Jinyoung mitcheoji). I wish him well, but honestly that uphill battle’s looking plenty steep.
That could be an interesting feature: biggest rating differential between subsequent comebacks (good OR bad). The data nerd in me can already visualize the spreadsheet, and it’s gorgeous.
Song’s… not good.
I’m pretty disappointed in A.C.E’s company….even though the group has tackled different sounds, their single choices have always carried a unique flair and allowed them to stand out. Take Me Higher might‘ve been their most “generic” track (before this one…) and even then it was grade A funk-pop bliss.
This….this is just what every other nugu boy group is doing. C’mon.
This track is actually partially composed by Under Cover’s first-listed producer (MadFresh365, or something to that effect). When I saw their name on the highlight medley I held out hope even though the showcased bit was, uh, not that great. I was wrong to do so, evidently. That prechorus ended up being the song’s high point, but ultimately still a valley where A.C.E’s discography as a whole was concerned.
The album is far stronger than the song, though. Holiday and particularly Slow Dive are absolute gems.
Thank you! I don’t know how I missed that. I updated the review to reflect this.
This only makes Savage’s disappointment even more mystifying! I blame the lack of Monotree…
I did a cursory check and it was Mad Fresh (ZBS). Perhaps it was Monotree and Bigtone’s loss that caused the directional shift.
as a huge a.c.e stan, this review both saddens me and validates me because i agree with everything. a.c.e are such outstanding performers and they can turn anything entertaining but savage is just BAD. generic and bad. such a disappointment after the masterpiece that was under cover, and i know they’re just trying to find what works so they can gain some capital but this is *not it*
I’m actually really surprised that you hated it so much~ Especially since I actually like this song better than Undercover lol The part at the beginning when Byeongkwan sings Bell over and over, like I could listen to a ten hour loop of that. Oddly I also feel like it has more melody than Undercover? So I don’t really know what you mean by that. 2:37 to basically the end is also so freaking good and reminds me a lot of what they did with Cactus. Plus the dance is insanely good but that is beside the point lol. I know it was like one of your major complaint but I also loved the way they changed their voices, and it wasn’t only autotune changing their voices because Donghun actually just does that voice wobbly thing irl (which I know you would hate because you hate when that The Rose guy does it too lol) but yeah this is like the lowest rating I’v seen in the reviews I’ve read from you and it kind of shocked me lol cause this song has already joined my top ten~
I’m convinced you’ve never read a bias list review after listening to a song before lol. This song is the embodiment of what thebiaslist dislikes in K-Pop. If they threw in some trophouse during the verses, I would have believed that they read this blog and purposefully set out to get the lowest rating ever… hehehehe
Well I only read them for the songs I like but tbh I figured since he liked Undercover and Savage is basically undercover 2.0 that he would like it. All they did was instead of mix hiphop with rock they mixed it with edm. To be honest I think the reaction was made more extreme by them have a song he really liked followed by one he didn’t. Same reason I hated rrb by red velvet (since it was kind of the sequel to bad boy) even though its actually not that bad now that I look back at it lol Though to be fair I understand him not liking some of it. Drops are a trend I wish would die, like it got tired 5 years ago. And as I said before I know he hates the voice thing that the The Rose guy does and Donghun kind of does the same thing here. But I thought he would appreciate moments like 2:37 – 2:39 for some reason but I guess the autotune was too much lol Though since I’m a Shawol and a MeU I can’t exactly complain about autotune lmao
Not much to add here, except that I love reading this exchange. It feels very meta!
CALLMEASHY, I’m happy that you love the song. I wish I did. Unfortunately, as RINWANEKODESUYO pointed out, Savage rests on too many musical choices that just don’t appeal to me. For me, it feels very unlike Under Cover, but I think we’re probably just focusing on different aspects of the track.
I guess that’s true we just saw different parts of the song~ Sorry for talking about you with you right there lol
Don’t be sorry. I love it! Haha
Sorry for the multiple comments, but this just crossed my mind. If ACE is going to do the producer shuffling routine, I actually think Dreamcatcher’s producer, LEEZ & Oleander, could be a really good fit for ACE. The typical standout Dreamcatcher B-sides like Silent Night and Sleepwalking could provide an interesting foundation for ACE to work with that would still have a somewhat similar feel as their debut material, additionally they have a good feel for the kind of melodic choruses that ACE excels with.
Funny you mention that, because A.C.E actually did work with LEEZ once before for an album track (2018’s Dessert) and the results were very solid. Honestly, I’m not sure that there’s a group out there that *wouldn’t* benefit from working with the LEEZ/Ollounder/etc team right now, but A.C.E seem like an especially smart match.
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Well you know what? I’m just gonna pretend this comeback never exists
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Idk how much effort you put in this review but for me it just sounded like a hate post. I am not sure if it’s because I liked the song or because I listen to EDMs a lot.
I listened to the song after reading the post and I thought I was the odd one out after reading the comments in the post, turns out I wasn’t. I read other reviews and sure they weren’t as “professional” as you but they definitely said it was EDM.
Have you listened to EDMs? Reading your post, it doesn’t sound like you do. According to Google, EDM is “popular music intended for dancing in clubs, typically having a repetitive beat and a synthesized backing track.” A.C.E checks off all that.
According to your polls, more than half of the people (58%) who read your review thinks the exact opposite of you. So if you can’t like it, then make it sound like an opinion rather than a fact. Don’t say that it’s a fact because you, yourself in the comment section, said that you don’t like it (“I’m happy that you love the song. I wish I did.”).
But I have to say that you pretty much convinced me to hate the song because you sounded so damn professional. Imagine I didn’t search up the other reviews, I would’ve start thinking that I have no taste in music
*this is not a review*
i listened to this song on repeat for the remainder of 2019 after it was released along, and it ended up as my most listened to song of the year. this track was like my guilty pleasure because i hated it so much but i loved it at the same time. however, no matter how bad you think the song was, it created so many iconic lines (looking at you, king wow)
admittedly, savage kind of was bland when compared to the other tracks on the album. slow dive was title track material and so sick was also a masterpiece. ace has always been the outlier in kpop with their music. name another kpop group that incorporates/incorporated hardstyle into their goddamn title track. they’re allowed to be generic this time. i would be worried if they didn’t come out with a bad song at least once in their music careers.
I feel the same way! The chorus makes me cringe, but sometimes it gets stuck in my head at the most random moments and magically drives me back to listen to the song again. It really grew on me over time! But I definitely agree, Slow Dive should’ve been the title track for sure.
Side note, I came back to this review after listening to Blackpink’s How You Like That, and I was disappointed that HYLT got a higher review than this. Savage’s drop is rough, especially compared to the wonderful songs we had previously from A.C.E, but it is a thousand times better than HYLT. At least Savage’s drop isn’t completely empty of sound and they actually have energy when they sing.
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