Review

Song Review: April – Now Or Never

April enjoyed a well-deserved breakthrough with this spring’s Lalalilala, which stands as their highest-charting title track yet. As a special thank you, the girls have released a short summer album, heralded by the buoyant Now Or Never. If it wasn’t already clear from my daily “Summer of K-pop” posts, I’ll always welcome a fun summer track — even better if they take influence from some of the sub-genre’s legends like Duble Sidekick or Black Eyed Pilseung.

Now Or Never does its best to be frothy summertime fun, and it definitely has its charms. April are a great conduit for the sound, delivering a bright, cheerful vocal without going too cutesy. I quite like the song’s opening verse. It has the pleasant, synth-fueled drive that characterizes so many of the great K-pop summer tracks. At this point, Now Or Never feels like a younger sister to Cosmic Girls’ excellent Boogie Up from last year. This charm continues until verse two forces an awful trap-rap breakdown on us, and this unfortunate instrumental element sticks around until the next pre-chorus. Talk about a bummer summer moment.

Of course, the true hallmark of a terrific summer track is its chorus. Now Or Never conjures a real racket here, bringing in carnival-like brass to give the rhythm more layers. Honestly, I’m not sure whether this is successful or just obnoxious. Either way, it comes across as a little frantic. For a track of this nature, a satisfying chorus should feel breezy and uncluttered, but Now Or Never confidently heads in the opposite direction. If nothing else, I guess I have to admire the chutzpah!

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8

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

18 thoughts on “Song Review: April – Now Or Never

  1. This is every girl group summer song ever. OK, I will grant you every =above average= girl group summer song ever.

    Beach? Check. Extra aegyo? Check. Pool? Check. Highly decorative pool floats? Check. Night scene at the end? Check? Oooh, they sprung for fireworks too.

    On a semi-related note: darling daughter just wandered in and declared she likes BNK48, the BaNKok Thai version of AKB48. She is a preteen so I suppose something like this was inevitable. BNK48 though? It happened to be the BNK48 version of the AKB48 “Heavy Rotation” aka “I love you” classic from a decade or so ago. In the Thai version they wear more clothing. Same dance.

    Then she says, who puts out 7 minute videos anyway, mom? Jpop, my dear, jpop.

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  2. “forces an awful trap-rap breakdown” you do realize this group has two rappers that have to actually bring in their skills at some point. it’s definitely not as much of a “bummer” as you want it to be considering every song has to have a rap and the rhythm flows with the overall beat better than expected. had this been a sistar song it would’ve likely received much higher reviews, instead is an “8” rating covered with backhanded insults.. racket, cluttered, frantic, bummer. it’s a simple girl group summer song. you do know that “chutzpah” is never a good thing, right? and “if nothing else?” at this rate you may as well have given it below a 7. for a young, underappreciated group that’s been under so much scrutiny and criticism for genuinely no reason as of late, i’d expect a more appropriate take than just backhanded remarks left and right. do better, i see why your site is losing traction by the day.

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    • I mean, we know Nick despises trap LOL

      Now, is he perhaps being OTT about how this ruins the song – when in reality it is very subtly infuses and doesn’t really change the momentum? Probably (definitely). Is it a case of not all trap being the same? Absolutely. Is this a case of Nick perhaps examining what it is about trap that makes it automatically dislike its us? Perhaps. But an 8 is still very high and he even says he enjoys the song, even if there’s a bad handed compliment in a place or two.

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    • You doing OK there, mate?

      In my part of the world among my American Jewish friends, chutzpah can be a good or bad thing, depending on how and where it is applied. Here, it is applied to mean “good”, as in audacious or ambitious.

      Liked by 2 people

    • 0) “i see why your site is losing traction by the day” Lmao you aren’t seeing shit.

      1) Nick may be a grump, but rest assured he is fair in his criticisms, and applies them pretty even-handedly, even to groups he normally likes. Your assertion that this would’ve been rated higher if this were a Sistar song is blatantly false.

      2) He isn’t so much against rap breaks per se, notice the qualifier “trap-rap” which is pretty much synonymous with hollowing all the good instrumental stuff for tinny, frankly irritating electronic percussion backing. I don’t understand why every K-Pop song post-BBoom BBoom does this when it works pretty much never. It kills all momentum built up by the chorus. Speaking of which…

      3) Yes, the chorus is cluttered as hell. The brass and melody are running in opposite directions and it’s disconcerting. A great summer chorus is usually effortlessly sing-along.

      4) If you don’t want to see criticism then you’re on the wrong site, you can head back to r/kpop where people are only allowed to say good things. 8 is a fairly generous rating as is.

      5) Drop the fucking persecution complex with your group. Y’all ain’t special. You wouldn’t last a day on stan Twitter.

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      • I’ll just jump in to say that The Bias List’s stats have actually been growing month-by-month for years, and July is on track to become the site’s biggest month yet 🙂

        And XDoublestar… since when am I a grump? 😦 Haha I feel like I’ve been super positive this month!

        Liked by 3 people

        • HAHAHAHAHA as a longtime reader I know you referred to yourself as a grump/curmudgeon a while back (albeit semi-seriously). I don’t actually think you’re a grump, was playing off that. 😛 Though a cursory search of the site only pulls up the fromis_9 Fun review, which isn’t what I was referring to… probably somewhere in the comments.

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    • “you do realize this group has two rappers that have to actually bring in their skills at some point.”

      Yeah well… if only the producers portrayed the two rappers’ skills in a creative and dynamic way. Trap-rap breakdown does the girls no favors, does the song no favors. Take cues from Loving U and the playful, sassy rap. Take cues from the more recent Boogie Up with the airplane rap. Now that’s rapping that I can appreciate.

      I feel sorry for the girls and boys that are constantly being shoehorned into trap-rap breakdowns that makes people want to quickly skip that part and carry on with the rest of the song. These girls and boys got better to show for their skills and it’s a pity that the producers aren’t doing them justice.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Almost every k-pop groups have one or two rappers… does rap automatically means trap break in the second chorus ? No. You have so many options to bring your rappers, in Boogie Up from WJSN, Exy has the whole second verse but the instrumental keeps the momentum that was built before. I don’t think G Dragon ever wrote a trap verse to show his skills. Or you just can give up these assigned positions when you have no idea how to bring the rappers into the song.

    The problem with these trap breaks is that it makes no sense. “Oh yes we have a rapper, what’s trendy in hip-hop nowdays ? Trap. Alright here are your 10 seconds now we can resume the song”.

    Liked by 3 people

    • GD definitely took trap influence in a LOT of his songs (One of a Kind, Coup D’Etat), but he at least generally used it in an interesting way instead of randomly interjecting it just where the track starts to build some momentum

      But yes, you said it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • You mark a point here, I didn’t think about his solo stuff when I wrote the comment.

        Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of old SM songs and if I had to chose, I would rather bring these rap outros. They event brought some H.O.T rappers just have a rap outro in SES b sides. It doesn’t make more sense but at least it comes at the very end of the song.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Well, there is Taeyang’s “Good Boy” ft GD, but that was years ago.

      I have been marathoning old Super Junior videos on my nightly stationary cycle ride this week. On at least half of their old songs, everyone is singing with nary a rap verse or phrase to be heard. Even the designated rappers are singing, because they can all also sing- see for example, SuJu “It’s You”.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s a fun and welcoming addition to the k-pop summer style. The industry this year seem to finally be catching up to the summer vibe. The chorus reminds me of a sung Bingle Bangle’s, probably just because of the intoniation at which they sing the title phrase

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  5. I like April, but I don’t know if they have a musical identity yet.

    The b-side, Paradise, felt like an Iz*one song with Wjsn elements singed by April and after 5 years I would expect to hear one of their songs and say: “yep, this is a classic April song”

    And for the rap part, that’s the biggest problem in kpop for me, props to Gfriend for keeping 90% of their songs rap-free in a world full of unnecessary rap breakdowns.

    All that said, “Now or never” will go straight to the summer playlist.

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    • “I don’t know if they have a musical identity yet.”
      I’d respectfully disagree, now every time I hear a typical e.one song I automatically think of April. They have definitely been pretty consistent with their sound for their main singles.
      April Story, Lovesick, Glass Castle, Take My Hand, Doll, The Blue Bird, they all make sense to be in the same discography.
      When I heard Merry-Go-Round by IZ*ONE, my mind automatically thought of April. They definitely have moments where they change a little bit, like Now Or Never, but for the most part, their discography feels pretty cohesive. Paradise for me feels like a summer version of Lalalilala, there’s nothing in it that reminds me of IZ*ONE lol

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  6. This song and its music video has no personality of its own. It’s everything I’ve heard and seen before, so it doesn’t excite me at all, which is disappointing because April is one of my favorite current girl groups.

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