Review

Song Review: Astro – Knock

In an all-too familiar K-pop template, Astro’s increasing success has come with a shift in their music. Their once bright, energetic style has dulled to a generic, moody haze – the likes of which are peddled by so many other boy groups of this era. This transformation started with 2018’s excellent Always You, but took a worrying turn late last year with the cumbersome Blue Flame. New single Knock (널 찾아가) continues their trajectory into monotonous, could-be-anybody fare, and it’s honestly kind of depressing.

I say this as someone who thought that Astro’s first few years were near-perfect. They debuted with boatloads of individual character and addictive material. Their stable of producers was tight and complimentary, imbuing them with a signature sound and energy. But, apparently male idol groups can’t stay energetic past a certain point, as “maturity” becomes cloaked in humdrum melodies and an endless supply of trap beats. Knock isn’t a terrible song, but it’s utterly faceless and uninspired. There’s not one element we haven’t heard a million times before from the likes of GOT7 and Monsta X and every other boy group who’s gained a foothold in the international market.

Knock’s verses are largely a lethargic affair, plodding along with aimless, angsty melody and hip-hop. The chorus has a halting structure, with both the vocals and instrumental targeting the same fractured approach. I appreciate that this is meant to come across as grand and cathartic, but I think the arrangement lets the song down. The hook feels overly repetitive and doesn’t really go anywhere, even when the guys rattle off some thrilling power notes at the climax. This refrain pounds with lockstep precision, preventing any spontaneity or genuine emotion from poking through. Astro sound great, but the melody lets them down. And, that’s pretty much how I’ve felt about their music for these past two comebacks. The group remains strong, but their material and concepts feel like they’ve been pulled from a bargain bin labeled “boy group K-pop 101.”

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7
 RATING 7

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

38 thoughts on “Song Review: Astro – Knock

  1. I actually think this starts out quite promising… until the lousy chorus rolls around. Any number of things could’ve helped: a steady beat to tie to the verses (instead of the skittering high hats we got), a fully-baked topline, some syncopation in the instrumental to give it some rhythmic interplay with the vocals…

    The diminishing returns are really starting to set in. ‘Blue Flame’ ultimately grew on me, but I still WANTED to like it at that point. This one’s facing an uphill battle.

    Liked by 1 person

      • There are quite a few similarities. The verses and the rapping is pretty similar and these verses do sound like got7. In adittion the music video did have a few visual nods to Eclipse. Overall they are not extremely similar but some inspiration was given.

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      • I find it a tendency in reviewers to criticise young bands when they are becoming a bit more famous, expecting to be surprised at every musical turn of a band or blowned away by new performances. There are also moments of reflection with artists and why not, of “maturity”. I find Knock a more mature song in fact, respect to previous releases, with meaningful lyrics and a powerful impact in vocal performance & dances. Its main chorus has been relentlessly playing in my head for weeks now and had a most positive impact when I played it on my radio show over Ibiza. Their voices are sculpted and evolved respect to their fresh beginnings, they now got a sonic appeal that catches a wider range of audience in my opinion. A “cliche'” band? No way! Listen again – there’s no other like #Astro around! Word of an Ibiza Dj 🙂

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  2. If there is anything surprising about this song, it is that youtube showed me an ad for medical marijuana right before it before it, and then autoplayed Ze:a “Mazel Tov” right after it.

    For the latter, “Mazel Tov” is clearly wrong because there aren’t days of the week anymore, every day is “day”. For the former, my not my style. My drugs of choice these days are a random bottle wine from the “quarantine six pack” I buy from the little independent wine store right after my weekly grocery pick up every week, accompanied by something anything from the little bakery in the same strip mall, so they all don’t go broke. Quarantine fifteen, doing my part.

    Oh, right, back to this song. Meets expectations.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Distorded voice to open the song and here we go for another soulless song. I will give to the rap/chorus final a thumb up, I think it is the best way to introduce a rapper when the song doesn’t fit them. Well here it didn’t prevent the song to have its usual boring rap second verse but it was the highlight of the song so I needed to point it out.

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  4. Let me go one the little rant today.

    Where’s the ASTRO we signed up for? Where’e the kpop I signed up for?
    I’ve listened today to many ‘old’ male kpop songs and somehow they’re all groovy and funky. Is it nostalgia?
    Like, e.g. Teen Top’s Miss Right. The 2nd part of the chorus is literally lalalala *english* lalalala. But it works.
    How come Astro’s chorus does nothing to me?

    TBC.

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    • Trust me, you are not alone in this rant. This has been my rant for months now… maybe even years.

      Somebody name the last upbeat, funky boy group title track with no horrible trap breakdown. You probably can’t, because there hasn’t been a single notable one this year.

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          • ENOi “Cheeky”?
            For soloists Xydo “Betting”.

            If we go back to end of last year, there is the underrated Aweek “Breathe”. For soloists, Lim Jimin “Who You?”, Shin Wonho (of Crossgene) “Invasion”.

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      • Not exactly what you’re asking for, but you seem bummed out, so…can I offer you a nice Imfact b-side in this trying time? Lie was nice but I almost wish their agency had just said “fuck it, we going 2013” and made this the title track. It’s the most healing, funky salve I can think of in these dark, trap-filled times. I feel like it’s my duty to let as many people as possible know about this or it’ll be doomed to forgotten b-side status forever lol.

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      • Idk why people are being rude and disappointed, personally I enjoyed every second of it. By the way, I’m not being baised at all. I love Astro’s songs and I’ve never hated one, actually my favorite album is spring up. Since then I’ve enjoyed everything they released,for some reason I love this song as much as I loved their debut. Some people forget that astro said they want to show arohas a more different and mature side of them, it’s kind of annoying when people are critiquing them without knowing their reasoning for it. Anyway, I enjoyed this comeback and I’m going to enjoy the rest of the album.

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        • What’s rude about not liking a certain song and being disappointed with the direction of the majority of the current kpop releases?
          Mature side to the group doesn’t equal melody-less music. I’ve also enjoyed pretty much all Astro’s releases up to date, but this song just does nothing for me. It’s forgettable, bland, not what I expect from a great group like them.
          Still, if you (and others) like it, then that’s great. Everyone’s taste in music is different and we can’t like same things equally, all the time. Enjoy it as much as you can while I re-listen their older releases.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Knock has so much potential and then it just wastes all of that energy by repeating knock in several different ways until you get tired of it by the first chorus. The piano instrumental tries to save it in the background but it couldn’t rescue the song. The only song I like on the album is Somebody Like, which actually sounds like the bright retro Astro that I’ve been missing since Crazy Sexy Cool and Baby. Every time Astro releases more comebacks, I feel hurt because I love them so much, but they keep taking two steps back against their amazing early content.

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  6. I used to be so excited for their releases and now I’m celebrating that at least I think this song is not as bad as Blue Flame.

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  7. Honestly, I haven’t listened to this yet, and I don’t really want to. I say that as someone who actually enjoys Blue Flame a TON — even if it’s not the Astro I know and love, it still makes great use of their voices and I feel like there’s a fair amount of room for their personalities to shine through. I actually have way more qualms with All Night, probably for the same reasons you dislike Blue Flame.

    This one, though… I’d rather not subject myself to it. Not only did I love Astro’s first couple of years, they were my very first group (excluding BTS, which I was never really into, but has become sort of the gateway-group for new fans). I’ve got a huge soft spot for them, and they had the exact music I was looking for as I drifted from the Western scene — bubbly without being too cutesy, energetic without being too shouty, kind of mindless pop music without the production feeling mindless as well. Blue Flame is a one-off that I can accept, no problem. Any more will make me sad.

    Side note: I’m back in the US now! Time to look into buying all the albums that I like but missed while I was in a bad shipping area. Any top-tier album suggestions for buying physical copies of?

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    • I am partial to Akdong Musician “Sailing” myself because it is an excellent album. Not quite kpop. You can of course preview it on youtube to see if it is your style.

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      • Oh, thanks so much! I actually love Akdong Musician (they’re one of my top Korean artists for sure), but I completely forgot about their new album when I was making my mental list.

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        • You know I’m going to go to bat for my boys Golcha! Re-boot was my favorite full album of last year, plus the physical packaging is super nice (even comes with a calendar!). The deluxe version is even better, but unfortunately long-since sold out. Maybe ebay?

          Otherwise, you can find my fav 2019 albums here: https://thebiaslist.com/2019/12/23/the-top-10-k-pop-albums-of-2019/

          TXT and ATEEZ’s albums also have nice packaging. And though not mentioned in that list, ONEUS’s three minis look real nice together on a shelf.

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          • Thanks a million! Will look into all of these. I’m also a huge Golcha fan — followed them from release, would have learned the DamDaDi dance if I had any sort of skill in the dancing department, all that jazz. Even if their sound has shifted, I’m glad they’re gaining some notoriety in an ever-growing musical landscape.

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  8. I knew it wasn’t going to be good, but I’m still disappointed.
    Song is okay, piano during the pre-chorus was nice, final 30 seconds were legendary, rest of the song….not so much
    Music video was also just fine, looked good overall, there was a nice dance set with planets and every colour imaginable, first minute felt too much like a photoshoot but everyone looked fine as hell so its not a big deal
    Album is not that good and out of the SIX songs I only liked ONE of them. That track was actually really great and it was the third one.

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  9. Hmm. It seems I’m the only one enjoying the song around here. But then I’m more of an instrumentals guy and this one sounds pleasant enough in a B-side kind of way. I genuinely like the verse part that comes before the rap (pre-rap part of the pre-chorus?) too, and I don’t know anything at all by Astro, so I can’t be disappointed.

    It’s certainly not going to become my Ring Ring Ring that I listen to religiously every other day, but I wouldn’t mind having it to pad my playlist. I appreciate the fact that the… whatever genre of machine music it is… never gets strident even in the chorus. Brownie points for the piano and having an actual sung chorus.

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    • I also liked it and at I expected Nick to give the chorus at least an 8. Not a bad song and think it’ll grow on many. It’s already grown on me!
      Knock>All Night>Blue Flame

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      • Oh, no. I meant Ring Ring Ring by Verivery hehe.
        But yes, I used to be a Shawol before… the sad event that must not be mentioned… and Ring Ding Dong is still one of my favorites.

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  10. Hi nick ,I am a big fan of your blogs . Your writting is beautiful and on point. And I feel you truly understand music (probably because u have reviewed so many songs).
    I am an Indian Aroha and love Astro but at the same time I can hear , or rather I can feel the problems with their and I happy that their is somebody that can put my feelings towards these kpop songs, into words.Thank you . That is why I want to make this request to you (If its not much of a hassle to you) can you review one, atleast one , any one , recent famous release from bollywood music Industry. My disappointment towards bollywood pushed me towards other music Industries. Its been years I dont listen to any new Indian songs any more .I am hoping you would look into it.(if you are not too tired or anything)

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  11. I like this song a lot, blue flame I think was very stereo typical. Not to say I was a bad song at all, I really liked it. But I think this is more unique. I like the prechorus a whole lot and I think the rapping stood out a lot too. I also much prefer their brighter concepts, Baby is my favorite song by them, but I thought this took a mature direction but it still remind me of Astro vibes. Thats just my opinion 🙂

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  12. wait, what is the resemblance between knock and monsta x’s recent releases?? just wondering because that comparison really caught me by surprise!

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    • It’s hard to explain, but for me it’s this kind of heavy, lumbering feeling in the song construction and arrangement — particularly Knock’s chorus. It doesn’t feel particularly light-on-its-feet or organic, but more melodically rigid, closed-off and repetitive if that makes sense. It’s a tough sentiment to put into words, but it’s the general feel I get from way too many boy group tracks lately.

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