Song Review: Zico x Kang Daniel – Refresh

I’m surprised at how long this Pepsi CF campaign has hung around. Though it’s officially connected to Starship Entertainment, the resulting songs have featured artists from across the K-pop sphere, often completely unrelated to Starship’s roster. Such is the case with Refresh, which pairs Zico with Kang Daniel. I can’t think of a trendier duo for this moment, but the match seems well-calibrated. Both artists have taken creative control in an idol industry that doesn’t always encourage that. Both gained prominence through very successful groups before establishing their own agency to support solo activities.

Perhaps more surprisingly, Refresh pairs the guys with global DJ Steve Aoki, who has previously collaborated with the likes of BTS and Monsta X. And really, the track plays like a three-man performance, as reliant on its squeaky, unremarkable drop as it is Zico and Daniel’s verses and pre-chorus. The instrumental opts for a more languid take on EDM, and like many songs of this nature, its appeal is hit-and-miss. Refresh is a sputtering pop song, formed of disparate elements that don’t add up to a satisfying whole. And at only two-and-a-half minutes, it feels incomplete.

Neither Zico nor Kang Daniel are allowed to display much personality throughout Refresh’s brief existence, but they do deliver a satisfying pre-drop hook. This moment is the only time where all three artists converge in true harmony, taking advantage of their contrast in vocals and adding some decent effects over the top. This pre-chorus segment is even better the second time around, when added percussion gives it a greater sense of climax. Unfortunately, this one standout piece isn’t quite enough to elevate Refresh beyond anything more than a throwaway. That’s a shame, given all the talent involved.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7

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


6 thoughts on “Song Review: Zico x Kang Daniel – Refresh

  1. OK, here is my highly snotty opinionated opinion: Does Steve Aoki ever release anything that is any good? I am old, so Steve Aoki just seemed to appear and suddenly be very important and everywhere, and yet I don’t get it.

    The jaunty rhythm in the drop chorus is very interesting. The clever use of autotune for the short chord vocal effect in the prechorus is also interesting. Otherwise the song upon repeated listens really has only one hook, which is repeated four different ways. Thank heavens it only lasts 2:30.

    As for Zico and Kang Daniel, good for them. They probably got paid well enough.

    Liked by 3 people

      • Its nice and pleasantly moody, warm and always resolving to the tonic. Musically it is a three chord, three idea song that disguises itself with a clever octave shift. The production also passes the lines around different timbre voices to sound more varied than it is. The verse also borrows heavily from GDragon “Untitled”. And since in “Truth Untold” the verse is veryvery close to the chorus, the chorus also borrows heavily from “Untitled”. So I myself wouldn’t call “Truth Untold” a “good song” but rather “a pleasant song that people like”.


        • The Truth Untold is the only song I really enjoy from Steve Aoki and I think its a very enjoyable song Though at the end of the day its not like he blew anyone’s mind with his work on that song. Honestly after finding out this collaboration was with Steve Aoki my disappointed soul would wish they would leave him in the past. Honestly I’d much rather see a (Prod by Yoo Young-jin) or a (Prod by 3Racha) on the titles of more songs. I’d especially like to see these titles on a YG track as its been a while since they’ve released something outstanding.

          Also am I the only person who thinks this song is a poor mans I Hope, and Jealous, from Kang Daniel’s two mini-albums.


          • I think SM and JYP keep Yoo Young Jin and 3racha pretty well cooped up to be borrowed to any other label. (Especially 3racha, given their idol day job.) And where the heck is Teddy hiding out these days?

            I don’t know enough Kang Daniel songs to comment about your other comment. I am too young to be the David Cassidy era, or way before that the Ricky Nelson era, yet too old for the Justin Beiber era, but I respect that a few times a decade there is a boy crush singer that the girls all flove, it is what it is, and I just let it go.

            Liked by 1 person

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