Review

Song Review: CRAXY – Aria

This February left us with a lot of sound-alike tracks, and that included a few debuts. With such a saturated market, K-pop agencies seem scared to offer anything new or risky. The thing is, I’d argue that playing it safe is rarely a good strategy for new groups. It’s so easy to be swept up in the monotony, with established acts eating up all the attention as their stable fan bases offer support regardless of the quality of the comeback song.

Enter CRAXY, who are on my shortlist for worst new idol group name of 2020. Very little about their pre-debut roll-out inspired optimism, but they’ve delivered one hell of an odd debut with Aria. I can’t remember the last time a K-pop single felt this genuinely surprising. The first time through, I had no idea where the song was going next. This anything-goes approach doesn’t necessarily make Aria an excellent piece of pop music, but it does make it interesting. And, “interesting” is in short supply these days.

Aria moves through an ever-changing barrage of musical segments, not arriving at any sort of chorus until a minute in. And even then, we’re only treated to a brief teaser of the titular hook before the track swerves in another new direction. Aria’s first few minutes are held together through sheer audacity rather than structural coherence. Still, there’s enough repetition to keep the track from feeling like a complete mess. I absolutely love the traditional elements woven throughout both the instrumental and melody. They’re tethered to a high-tempo EDM beat that helps soften what could have been a series of awkward transitions. Taken on their own, Aria’s series of melodies aren’t very impressive. But, their brevity guarantees that listeners will never be bored.

From its bridge onward, Aria loses all semblance of a mainstream pop song and just fully embraces its own oddness. This segment plays with tempo, structure and energy, but without the standard trap-rap we’ve become used to. Initially confusing, this mashed-up interlude rockets into a bombastic climax that ends the song on a high. Keep it weird, CRAXY. You’ve certainly made it on my radar.

* Also, that is one gorgeous music video…

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75

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

24 thoughts on “Song Review: CRAXY – Aria

  1. From now on a bill will be introduced to require every newly debuted girl group to have a belty singer.

    Seriously I am just thinking about LOONA and them not having one of those and I saw this.

    The music video set is quite erratic even by girl crush standards, and performers are pretty capable. The Ddu Ddu variation motive at the end though…

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      • I mean… She has a pretty serious problem of extending her lips to the side way more than she should with her “a” and “e” vowels, in some cases the technique she uses kind of count as belting but this problem stops her from achieving what the belting technique is meant to achieve.

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    • I hadn’t really thought much about the Loona vocal line. Fortunately there are lots of vocal clip youtube videos for Loona, and in nearly all of them the girls are singing live acapella. The fan commentary is funny. This one is the “low voice” (can hit a B), this one is “jazzy” (no, not really). Most of Loona can carry a tune, in tune, most of the time, which should be par for the girl group course but in kpop is considered by most to be a “strong vocal line”. Its OK. I suppose it suits the style of pop songs they do, but they are not going to get past the 2nd round of Masked Singer.

      Chuu – she smiles waaayyy too much, beauty pageant smile, for every song no matter the subject matter. That throws lots of others things off. I think her voice is very pretty, but it sounds like an untrained 15 year old voice that the choral director in high school floves but doesn’t age well in time.

      Back in my high school day, our choral director had us put on these big smiles too, even for heavier stuff like for example Fiddler. “Is this the little girl I carried, Sunrise Sunset” “Life has a way of confusing us, blessing and bruising us” There we were, doing showtunes with the biggest cheesiest grins like it was the happiest day of our lives.

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      • “Whatcha gonna do with dat big fat smile? Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle” — Jason Derulo, 2014

        Yes, choral director telling us to smile while singing is the biggest scam in our lives that we all have to go through.

        Since I have successfully lured you into wasting time researching this topic in a review for another group, I am gonna dump my own review on most members:

        The “deep voice” is probably Yves, and she loves Sunmi, which makes me sad, because she basically copied Sunmi’s habit of aggressively lowering larynx and stressing tongue to create that sound, and it is extremely prone to error in live. Sunmi basically have half the notes sang lower than the actual note by half or a quarter note and Yves tends to go to a lower key entirely.

        The “Jazzy” voice may be Heejin? She makes me feel the same with her dancing and singing: everything is perfectly fine as long as it is within her capabilities, but like without proper styling. When it falls out of her usual range or experience she just fails outright. The kind of student who do well in tests but really lacks their own vision.

        JinSoul: Budget Seulgi. Waiting for some genius in Kpop to figure out the way to achieve stableness without nasal sound (BoA: Umm) or figure out you can sing differently in live compared to your recording.

        Chuu already said.

        Kim Lip: One trick pony R&B suiting singer with lacking support. That one trick is quite beautiful though.

        Haseul: Problems of Chuu and maybe Yves combined? Both to a lesser extent?

        All the rest: they need to figure out how to properly “make any sound” before we talk about actually singing (this includes Olivia Hye, and this is especially true for Hyunjin)… In this regard Vivi, who fans constantly complain about not having lines, is actually ahead in this one. Not a high bar tbh but yeah we can say unfairness is true.

        (Hey, 6/12 got some basics figured out and have some good potential, that’s actually not that bad! Or maybe I just spent too long with this industry…)

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        • I understand the point of your post, but you do realize this is K-pop, right? Your analytical breakdown of each member in a 5+ member group could easily be applied to any group and the results would be equally scattershot. SNSD, After School, T-ara, Nine Muses, OMG, WJSN, Lovelyz, Dreamcatcher, and others are all mixed bags with uneven rosters.

          When you have 5+ members in a group, it is nonsensical for them to each be a powerhouse singer. It’s a waste of talent because none of them will be able to shine or stand out given the short time constraints of modern song lengths. Think of the average K-pop act as a small stage play. There’s the lead characters, the supporting actors, the stage extras, then there’s props, lighting, and an orchestra pit. That’s K-pop. It’s a show and it’s one that I will gladly buy tickets to every chance I get.

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          • We may as well add the Go-Go’s and Spice Girls to your list.

            I agree with Xeno. In 90+% of the groups in kpop, half of everyone in a group is picked for something other than vocals. Most of kpop is about the packaging, showmanship, and overt idolatry. It really is the modern edition of Ziegfield Follies, 100 years on. Rotating performers, all designed to sell. Booze, mostly, back then.

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  2. This song unfolds so slowly that I wanted to see what it would sound like played at 1.25 speed on YouTube. It made it more dancey but also more generic somehow, so I guess the tempo works as is?

    Also yeah wow the set + CG at the very end of the video was kinda stunning.

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  3. I couldn’t find the songwriter easily, because the agency failed the first step of brand awareness: type it in and see what pops up. Well, in this case it autocorrects to, yes of course, Crazy. “Did you mean mean Crazy kpop Search for instead Craxy kpop”. According to one lyrics site, the songwriter is someone called Gahki. (I don’t know who that is.) On the same topic, the agency blurb on the video and first comment reads … well go enjoy! really Allways!!

    This song is bonkers. I really don’t know what to think. At this point, on the nth listen, I am still overthinking it. Does that make it enjoyable? I don’t know, probably … not? – I listened to Led Zep on the drive today, and their bonkers songwriting is very enjoyable, all those time signature changes and kick ins. Beach Boys “Good Vibrations” is also bonkers, and yet it works. Here, just as I try to grab onto some scrap of melody, the song changes again, and not in a pleasing way. What sounds like the chorus only became obvious the second time it plays about 2:00 mark. The synth follows the “More is More” pattern common these days. That main whiny brass synth noise timbre is a bit too piercing, too often for my taste. I hear something like a dozen or more different synth sounds and lines salted throughout, perhaps more. Step away from the buttons!

    Certain elements of the soundscape and construction reminds me not just of Black Pink but also Big Bang, or just Teddy to be more general. Bang Bang Bang also ends on that rousing all together now this time with =feeling= outro ending.

    And then, MCND “Ice Age” autoplays. Come into Ice Age, Come into Ice Hail.
    Alrighty, with that I am going to call it a night, and see if it all makes any more sense in the morning.

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  4. I love the MV too! I haven’t seen something so pleasing to the eye in a long time. They really had the budget and I’m quite surprised. Where did they get all the money from? I don’t think their company is a big company or something.

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    • The company the group’s under (SAITainment) is owned by a famous Indonesian couple. They are (and have been for the past decade) veryyy popular here, and make BANKS from endorsement deals and various businesses, to name a few. So yeah I’m sure this debut project (and that gorgeous MV…) is largely funded through their own pocket.

      About the rather impressive view count the MV is getting… This group is the FIRST kpop group created by INDONESIANS (I’m not sure what the girls’ nationalities are). Indonesia has some of the biggest & most supportive kpop fan communities (you cannot go anywhere here, at least in the urban area, without hearing someone humming a kpop song lol) and the majority of these kpop fans are DEFINITELY willing to support any kpop-Indonesia combo.

      Excuse my poor grammar :/

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re grammar is fine. I completely understood everything. You write better than some others that visit here. I won’t mention names. Cough.. ..MYMAGOOGLE.. ..Cough.

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  5. This song is baffling, I keep listening to it hoping the structure will make more sense and I still can’t get a handle on it. Definitely very interesting, I’m intrigued by this group

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  6. This music video is exactly what the song deserved. The visuals really bring out the musical aspect of it. Which is amazing and very impressive.
    However, I think that if I were to listen to the music on its own (without having been so impressed by the video), it would not be my cup of tea. Especially- without a catchy hook or chorus to grab onto, I feel like this song will be very difficult to remember considering how difficult it is even to hum along to.

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  7. I definitely appreciate the intention behind this song, but I think it really could do with some kind of stronger chorus to anchor it.
    I don’t think I’ll feel the need to return to this, but we’ll see.

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  8. Reminded me of the upbeat version of chinese songs that my father would often plays. Not…..sure on how replayable this is but, worth noting because traditional instrument in k-pop is always nice.

    Also, where did this nugu even have the budget for this mv? And, wtf? They have 1 million views too? Did i missed the hype about this group somehow?

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    • The company the group’s under (SAITainment) is owned by a famous Indonesian couple. They are (and have been for the past decade) veryyy popular here, and make BANKS from endorsement deals and various businesses, to name a few. So yeah I’m sure this debut project (and that gorgeous MV…) is largely funded through their own pocket.

      About the rather impressive view count the MV is getting… This group is the FIRST kpop group created by INDONESIANS (I’m not sure what the girls’ nationalities are). Indonesia has some of the biggest and most supportive kpop fan communities, (dare I say, on earth), and most of these kpop fans are DEFINITELY willing to support any kpop-Indonesia combo.

      Excuse my poor grammar :/

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for the information. Some of us here are big fans of all the behind the scenes details. Double thumbs up for you!

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      • Ah, glenn alinskie and chelsea olivia? I’m from indonesia too, and i saw the comments about it but i haven’t tried to google who is it yet.

        That’s a big name sponsoring it, and i guess “their fandom is actually strong as hell” is enough reason for this group’s popularity. Thanks a lot!

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  9. During the early parts of the song, my recollection powers were firing in all directions. Example:

    – Slight nod to the lyrical progression of ITZY’s “Dalla Dalla” at the start.
    – Slight BP Rosé/(G)I Miyeon vibe at the beginning from the girl with the short aubern hair.
    – Slight Miryo from Brown Eyed Girls vibe during early rap verses; same cadence?
    – Some dance full group segments: Bollywood musical number.

    After a point, I had to shut them down because there were just too many cross-references ping-ponging in my skull. “Yes”, there’s a lot to absorb. And “Yes”, there’s a lot that seems familiar, yet different. Finally, “Yes”, I (also) am not sure what to make of it. This is a song where you need more history with the group to be able to properly assess it.

    I’m not going to give it a score. Maybe after a few more listens, I’ll come back and click a rating number in the script box (above), but for now, it needs to steep with me. If I had to immediately provide the most succinct description for this song, it’s.. ..resplendent chaos.

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  10. Is that a Fantastic Baby MV reference around 2:52? That aside, this song is.. something. It’s like some sort of modern art piece expressed as a pop song. I haven’t heard anything like this in a long time.

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  11. Well the ending just made me go…… POP!! and I loved it but that let – down of a chorus is what ruined it. The Hooks are good , production-wise I like it and my thrill and Bias for this song is also pretty good. Good way to start of your career.

    Hooks: 9
    Production: 8
    Thrill: 9
    Bias: 8
    Overall Rating: 8.5

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