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.
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