Song Review: Lee Suhyun (AKMU) – Alien

It’s been over a year since AKMU’s last comeback, and that song is still sitting comfortably on the Korea charts. No matter what they do, this brother-sister pair is popular. So, it makes sense to branch out to solo careers. And though Lee Suhyun’s Alien is composed by her brother Chanhyuk, its dancefloor-ready sound is a departure from AKMU’s more folksy style. In fact, the song feels very much like “K-pop does Dua Lipa,” which is no bad thing.

But, that comparison does Lee Suhyun a disservice. She’s an incredibly unique vocalist, and the clarity of her tone gives Alien its own vibe. She’s proven time and again that she can tackle any genre and make it exciting, so it’s no surprise that she excels here. She gives Alien a quirky style, transforming a rather standard disco throwback into something more exciting.

The song’s instrumental throbs with consistent bass. Much of its appeal hinges on various rhythm guitar loops and riffs, which gives the track a refreshingly old school appeal. There are modern touches here and there, but the production is pretty simple and single-minded. This allows for focus on Suhyun’s performance, which really drives the track. The verses are especially pleasant, with a melody that peaks in a few well-place high notes before delivering a groovier refrain. In contrast, I wish there was more to the chorus. Its simple melodic asides work well enough, but a megawatt hook (à la Everglow’s La Di Da) could have sent this into the stratosphere. Even so, Alien is an ebullient burst of dance pop with major potential to grow as time goes on.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8


11 thoughts on “Song Review: Lee Suhyun (AKMU) – Alien

  1. This song is so good. Effortless pop. What’s the difference? It’s the songcraft. This would sound awesome as a solo acoustic guitar version, because brother probably wrote it on his guitar picking out the lines one by one, making choices, honing to a perfect melody, to a nice lyric. This was not song camped at all, or built in the studio through fancy boops and beeps and production effects, but created as a song.

    The songcraft has excellent bones to it. And then add on top Suhyun’s superb performance, light and effortless, with no affectations, this makes for a very very good song and a very pleasing experience for the listeners.

    Can you hear it as an acoustic guitar version at some indie coffee shop busker? Yes! As a heavy rock band version, some big guy growling a a a a a Alien? As a horn version with marching band, all the percussion drums going on those bass lines, the glockenspiel on the first verse, call and response on the chorus with the trumpets doing the “a a a a” then the sax “an alien” and finally the trombones doing the last chorus lines sliding in and out. You know when I start dreaming up marching band version, you know I love the song. You know when I start thinking about how “If Neil Diamond were writing this decade instead of the 1960’s, this is the kind of song he would write”, you know that I love this song.

    Mid 9’s for me.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. This song is so great! It’s so smooth and cool! I’m loving the mv as well. I get nervous every time a YG artist I like has a comeback because their content quality is all over the place these days, but Suhyun and Chanhyuk are such consistent artists no matter what they do!


  3. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great song and I particularly enjoy the verses, but “Alien” lacks something, maybe some power or a punch that, as you mentioned, elevates it to greatness. I guess it feels to save for me but I see it growing in me with time. Really hope she continues with this sound and style throughout her solo work.


  4. Suhyun did a great job as per usual. I love the alien theme and how the synths evoke an 80s outer space vibe.
    The song doesn’t really excite me, though, and I think it’s because the chorus is so laid back. I wish “Alien” had moments for her to go hard on the vocals.


  5. I agree. On first listen the bass immediately reminded me of Dua Lipa’s ‘Don’t Start Now’. I also really enjoyed the song because of how smooth it felt, it was refreshing to listen to.


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