Song Review: AKMU (Akdong Musician) – Happening

Over a year since its release, AKMU’s 2019 title track How Can I Love The Heartbreak, You’re The One I Love is still lodged in the top twenty of the Melon digital chart. That’s the very definition of an enduring megahit, and a testament to just how much Korea loves this singer-songwriter duo. Because of this, I’m surprised that it took them so long to release more music, though vocalist Suhyun did debut as a soloist last month.

Whatever the reason, it’s always good to have AKMU back. Their music never disappoints, even as it hops from genre to genre. With that said, I’d be surprised if new single Happening enjoyed the same long-term success as How Can I Love The Heartbreak. Though it’s unattached from a full or mini album, the track feels more like a b-side than an obvious title. AKMU’s b-sides tend to be very good, so this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Happening enlists a sprightly tempo while retaining a sense of melancholy. The song divides its verses equally between Suhyun and Chanhyuk, though his voice is more prominent throughout. This includes the chorus, which pushes forward with a satisfying, guitar-driven drive. Speaking of guitar, my favorite moment in Happening occurs during its climax, when the instrumental’s gentle strum is bolstered by rock distortion. This brings some welcome sonic angst the track, and could have been capitalized upon further. As it stands, Happening is oddly hushed. It harnesses a great melody, but the track feels like it’s missing something. And to make matters more frustrating, I can’t quite put my finger on what that something might be.

 Hooks 8
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 7.75

4 thoughts on “Song Review: AKMU (Akdong Musician) – Happening

  1. That was my impression after listening to it as well. It reminded me a lot of their B-sides, which are always a pleasant listen and something I rarely skip. If anything, it’s a few of their title tracks that have been the most hit or miss and haven’t endured as long (Re-Bye, How People Move), but even the worst of their title tracks, barring ballads, have something that catches your attention and hooks into your brain. There is nothing bad about this, but there certainly isn’t anything memorable either. Like their older B-sides, I can see this sticking on my playlist for a long time and not skipping it but also just being ambivalent about it when it does play. I’m still waiting for the upbeat Akmu song that can top 200% or really turns another trend into something uniquely theirs like Dinosaur. This song certainly isn’t either of those things. It definitely feels like an odd choice for a title track after such a long hiatus.


  2. It sounds like a reworking of their “Last Goodbye” song from 2017 done in the fashion of their Sailing album from this time last year.

    What is it missing? Cleverer harmonies. I mean, I have Sailing as the physical CD played frequently on the real stereo, and also as a download played on the ipod (because current computer does not have a freekinng CD player to rip it), and “How Can I Love …” as well as Chantey Freedom Whale and the rest are still high up in the playcount.

    Also missing, Suhyun killing us with the aching curl of a vocal performance. Just listen to “How Can I Love …” without feeling something. Its a hell of a performance. For me, who gets equally tied up in the mechanics of music, it is a release to find a song where I leave all that behind. ‘

    But really, the first and main line of the chorus of this song sounds a lot like the first and main line of the chorus of “Last Goodbye”.


  3. “I’m surprised that it took them so long to release more music, though vocalist Suhyun did debut as a soloist last month.
    Whatever the reason, it’s always good to have AKMU back.”

    He just came back from the military


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