Review

Song Review: Yukika – Soul Lady

Many well-meaning fans pointed me toward Yukika’s Neon last year, knowing how much I love anything that draws influence from the 80’s. And I did enjoy it, even if I think it bops along a bit half-heartedly, without the bite I like to hear in a good pop song. But for me, that’s city pop in a nutshell. I think I like the idea of city pop more than most of the actual music. Its aloof nature tends to favor rather flat vocal performances that miss out of the expressiveness that can make a song especially memorable. With that said, Soul Lady (서울여자) ups the energy for a brisk blast from the past.

Unveiling its big, brassy instrumental right from the start, the track delivers a percolating dance beat with layers of rhythm buttressing a catchy drum machine and airy backing vocals. It shares many of the elements from Yukika’s past work, but Soul Lady feels fuller and definitely more exciting. Even when it slows for a hazy, dreamlike bridge, you know that its punchy chorus is waiting just around the corner. And while I always favor momentum over repetition, Soul Lady’s hooks are sharp enough to stick.

Of all the K-pop acts hearkening back to 80’s sounds this summer, Yukika seems most intent on fully recapturing the aesthetic. I wonder how Soul Lady might sound if it had tethered a few modern touches to its city pop frame? I guess we have Sunmi’s Pporappippam for that, and these two songs make a nice double feature.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.5

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9 thoughts on “Song Review: Yukika – Soul Lady

  1. It’s alright. Hook isn’t hooky enough. Actually, what hook, more like the instrumental isn’t hooky enough. A bit over-rated.

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  2. Wow! I didn’t know you would be reviewing this! Thank you!

    What can I say? I love city pop. And I’m so happy that there’s someone representing that genre in the Korean language.

    On a side note, I found myself preferring 그늘 (Shade) over this. I wasn’t surprised when I found out when this was co-written, co-composed, and co-arranged by Hwang Hyun. I’ve always loved how wit writes his melodies.

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  3. I’m kinda on the fence about the “city-pop” genre, as I was actually a teenager in the 80’s, and a recording artist back then too. City-pop has become more of a stylized and romanticized version of the music from that era, particularly the Japanese music. That doesn’t in any way make city-pop seem inferior nor even uninteresting to me. It stands on its own, and I enjoy it. But when I want to hear 80’s style music, I generally prefer to listen to actual 80’s music.

    I’ve been aware of Yukika for a while and eagerly anticipating her album. And it’s really good. I prefer her previous single, “Yesterday”, over this track – possibly because it is somewhat less city-pop’ish. Anyway, it’s great you took time to review Yukika, I feel she’s not been getting the attention she deserves.

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  4. Nice to see Yukika on here! I’m a fan of city pop because it’s generally pleasing to listen to. I love kpop for its hooky choruses, but not all music has to be catchy. Weirdly, I prefer Soul Lady to Yesterday. Soul Lady is darker and moodier and the type of song I haven’t heard from Yukika yet. Either way, Yukika clearly has found a style that makes her stand out in the crowded Korean music industry, and from listening to her album, she still finds ways to experiment within the city pop genre.

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  5. I kind of expected Miyu Takeuchi to follow this path and release a city pop album so it’s kind of sad that someone with less exposure than her did it first.

    On the other hand Yukika is also great

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  6. I missed this review! I’m really glad to see Yukika get more publicity with (finally) her debut album. It even charted well in the US and UK itunes! Yesterday is still my favorite track but it’s all consistent in sound and quality, a strong and thematic first album she deserves. It only hurts a little how much I love some of the interludes….will hold out a little hope they might get expanded one day.

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  7. I missed this review! I’m really glad to see Yukika get more publicity with (finally) her debut album. It even charted well in the US and UK itunes! Yesterday is still my favorite track but it’s all consistent in sound and quality, a strong and thematic first album she deserves. It only hurts a little how much I love some of the interludes….will hold out a little hope they might get expanded one day.

    Like

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