Review

Song Review: ENHYPEN – Given-Taken

After recapping each and every episode of this summer’s I-LAND, I feel a strange sort of kinship to ENHYPEN. This comes despite the fact that I rarely enjoyed the music that came out of that series. Still, the guys have plenty of potential, and that fact that they’re bolstered by the support of Big Hit guarantees their instant success. It also guarantees a few other things, like awful vocal processing and yet another title track by the omnipresent Melanie Fontana/Michel “Lindgren” Schulz duo.

Like most of their agency peers, ENHYPEN’s debut album attempts to establish layers of lore. I’m honestly too tired to research the specifics, but Day One appears to be the first in a series. As usual, none of this matters if the music isn’t good.

Title track Given-Taken has its moments, but doesn’t present the defining vision I’d hope to hear in a debut. Like most of I-LAND’s output, it feels like 2020-era Big Hit by-the-numbers. The song takes way too long to get going, wasting its first forty-five seconds with a sputtering, non-starter of a melody. Things improve as the beat drops and the chorus takes charge. It’s not an incredible hook, but it’s the one time during Given-Taken that the suffocating vocal processing actually fit.

The song’s climax also offers a peek at what ENHYPEN’s music could become. I enjoy the dramatic backing vocals during the bridge. They lend Given-Taken an ornate touch, which feels like what the entire track is aiming for. Unfortunately, there’s just too many meaningless diversions peppered throughout the verses to make this much of a compelling debut.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8

51 thoughts on “Song Review: ENHYPEN – Given-Taken

  1. I had low expectations so I liked the song. The vocal processing here isn’t as bad as their b-side track 10 Months. I almost had a headache while trying to finish the whole song, my god.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My thought after finishing that song out of curiosity is a bit different: Bit Hit should rebrand themself as “Oh Yeah Entertainment” and put that exact same “Oh Yeah” repeated 1 billion times in the song at the end of their every music video just as sm put that wobble dubstep growl sound at the end their every mv now just for the sake of transparency lol

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  2. Despite loving ENHYPEN, I couldn’t get into the song because of the voice processing. I liked the live version much better because it is not so much technology and more of the members’ actual voices. The song was also very BigHit style which, to me, reminded me a lot of a BTS or TXT song instead of having their own identity. Hopefully, in the future, they can find a more distinct sound. On the other hand, the performance is amazing and I am interested in listening to the rest of the album based on the preview.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This was better than I thought it would be. It’s a fine debut. Its not distinctive, but well produced and polished.

    I am growing weary of everyone using the robotic deep voice as an effect, At this point, it is now past being overused.

    Do these boys have three songs out today fully choreographed? (“Given, Taken”; “Let Me In / 20 Cube”; “10 Months”) Sheesh, they’ve been busy. As expected not a single bit of live singing in the showcase and music show for any of them. Those microphones aren’t even turned on. Oh but they pipe in crowd noise. There are even fan chants piped in on Mnet, but not a single shot of those fans.

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    • The way that live performances have become so carefully produced is interesting to me. Almost makes you wonder what the point of ‘live’ performing is today?

      Liked by 5 people

        • Unprompted storytime: I have to confess that my previous name was mostly an inside joke with a friend from my time as an EXO-L three or four years ago. Good times, but I haven’t kept up with the group and it’s members much since then- I just never changed my name here. I still have a special place in my heart for Xiumin and I hope to see more of him when he comes back (maybe a solo??) ❤

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I think that it is a nice song but very safe, very generic, and just way too reminiscent of txt imo. They don’t really have their own sound that establishes or separates them which is important and necessary for a debut I think. Their label should’ve taken a bit more time to develop their sound and image before debuting them so quickly. I want them to have their own identity because listening to the song and watching the music video I still have no idea who they are or any feel for what they are trying to accomplish or project with their look and sound. But I can see that the talent is there and I really like their concept so I’ll be looking forward to their next release to see if they can redeem themselves a bit as it’s obvious that they have a lot of potential.

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    • Not TXT, at least not in the title track. Rather a lot like latter-day BTS, which might be worse, since it seems BH is trying to cook up a BTS substitute ppalli ppalli. The other songs do seem more like TXT b-sides.

      Thinking about it, BH have been trying to turn TXT into a BTS substitute since the beginning of the year. Hmmm…

      And indeed, the concept is all over the place.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. ok looks like all comments are about the vocal processing…I dislike it too and I like it often on TXT…
    I thought I was gonna hear what these boys’ voices actually sounded like since I-land was only about dancing basically…

    Song is alright. I like the harp song the drives the verses tbh. I do like the chorus. The boys are good at dancing ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    • For some reason, in TXT tracks, the vocal processing is more endurable. Maybe it’s because I actually like their vocal color and I’m willing to forgive it.

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      • Yeah, when it comes to the vocal effect, I don’t usually mind it so much on TXT tracks. Maybe it’s because I just prefer their music to the other artists, but I also think it fits with their ethereal pop sound.

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    • The vocal processing bothered me a lot less here than in Blue Hour. It doesn’t feel as overdone on the verses. I like the song, but it’s not what I would’ve expected or wanted from a debut. It doesn’t really have standout features for ENHYPHEN to build their sound around. I do think the intro is cool though.

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  6. This might be the first time I am left thinking an album’s intro should have been the title track. And what an intro! I’d feel cheated by the rest of the release, but I set my expectations suitably low and so, if anything, find the bass-line and hook… not precisely good, but at least promising. (On first listen however, mind as clear as I could get it, I thought the song was hopelessly boring)

    Then again, as someone else said in the SM grading post, would anyone give the group the time of day again if they weren’t from a Big 4 company? (Fun fact: when writing that I accidentally pressed SHIFT, making it Big $. Freudian slip of the pen?)

    What’s even funnier is that it seems Bang PD has really, really been reading his fan-fiction lately. The “Interview with the Vampire meets Teen Wolf” with a dash of Attack on Titan aesthetic for the concept is taken straight outta the current crop of AO3 works. In fact, I have a specific one in mind.

    Sadly, and probably because I watched the show, I know I won’t be getting into them on the strength of their personalities alone. The members seem to have a conspicuous lack of chemistry and charm.

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    • Personally I enjoy their personalities, but I understand what you mean by the chemistry. That could probably be fixed since they do all share a room, but only time can tell.

      I also see what you mean by the aesthetic. It is really over the top and fantastical, although I do enjoy more of the expensive look especially as it pertains to concept photos.

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      • Ever since the Fire performance I knew Jay had the potential to be a strong performer but I never particularly cared about his personality. I used to like Sunoo until he began to feel rather tiresome around the end of the show. And then the other 5… What about the other 5?

        I mean, my beef with the group is more directed towards BH, really, in that they tried to make a sort of Chosen 7 out of a survival show and the group ended up feeling awkward.

        Survival show groups’ are usually big. Wanna One, X1, Treasure, TOO, etc, because their strenght is numbers; grouping the random boys the audience favors won’t make it organic, so at least you drown it all in noise and hope they make popular pairings or trios.
        The survival show groups that feel organic are Stray Kids, because they were self-chosen, in a way, and X1, and now we know that group wasn’t made by the public.

        So what I’m saying, in short, is that this group should have had more members, and most of the interesting people were left behind. And that is totally apart from the fact that this song would have been quite generic whether they had 7 or 12 boys.

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        • I really liked Jay’s personality on I-LAND for all of his “embarrassing moments” which brought comic relief to the otherwise stuffiness of the show. For me the person who never stood out in terms of his personality was Sunghoon, and I really only acknowledged him for his visuals until after he was chosen for the group.

          I worry a bit because if they seem so disjointed people might start solo stanning which (correct me if I’m wrong) would be easy for a group coming out of a survival show. It might also be because they are not comfortable in front of a camera yet, so that’s why they are so awkward with each other because I know a couple of them have been training with each other for years.

          The reason they made the group seven was probably just because BTS is seven. I don’t think people would have been mad if I-LAND just stopped at part one and they debuted whoever made it.

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          • – “I don’t think people would have been mad if I-LAND just stopped at part one and they debuted whoever made it.”

            On the contrary. Back in the days of the show I was part of a bunch of separate Eggy GCs, and people there were almost unanimously either afraid or angry when they announced a Part 2 and the fact that fully half of the boys would be eliminated in one fell swoop, mostly because leaving only 12 with still half the show to go pretty much confirmed that the final lineup *would* consist of 7 members, probably to give it a veneer of “the select few.” People even tried to fight back after the finale to at least get Daniel and K in.

            Back then I couldn’t think of any possible combination of only 7 that would be satisfactory, and indeed it isn’t.

            – “I worry a bit because if they seem so disjointed people might start solo stanning which (correct me if I’m wrong) would be easy for a group coming out of a survival show.”

            My last involvement with the I-Land fandom was around the time they announced the fandom name (mid-October, I think) and at least back then the majority mood, and specially in my GCs, seemed to be something along the lines of “I’m here for N. N fighting!” or “oh well, I guess I’ll have to support them if I wanna support X/Y/Z.”

            I’ll be more surprised if the fandom *isn’t* composed mostly of solo stans right now.

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            • Ah good to know that my thoughts were valid. I watched the show, but I wasn’t that into the fandom, so I didn’t really know what other people thought. I did however see the petition going around for K to join the group. Honestly, I’m kinda surprised they didn’t put K in considering how many people wanted him in even though it was after the show was over.

              Oof you bringing up the fandom name made me remember it. I actually have seen so many other fandom names floating around that sounds better than ENGENE. It wasn’t like they didn’t get the people’s input…Not mad or annoyed about it. Just a thought.

              Something else that I just remembered. During I-LAND, fans made fandom names for each of the boys when it got towards the end. It was like everybody has their own mini fandoms that were actually sorta against each other. Then suddenly they all got tossed into this one fandom just because the boy/boys that they liked got put into the group. I actually even remember people hoping some boys wouldn’t make it. The whole setup of the show seems actually quite problematic for the group now that I think about it. Maybe the girl version will be better?

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  7. They were so hyped up by their fans but they did what? Released a trash song. This is the kind of song everybody makes and play safe with. But unfortunately, enhypen couldn’t even play safe with such a safe track. I’m disappointed. After all these hype, I was expecting something good from them. I was def not expecting a soty deserving song but I was also not expecting such a trash too.

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  8. Honestly it sounds to me like something BTS would have released in their 2016/2017 run, only with Big Hit’s current penchant for over-processing vocals thrown in. It’s not terribly interesting, and it kind of gives me fear that they can’t sing, tho that wouldn’t be unique from their agency. Also, I only got a few glimpses from the mv, and I’m not invested enough to seek out the performances they’ve apparently done, but for a group made from a survival show, they seemed kind of like weak dancers?

    Like

    • They are certainly not a group focused on vocals. From what I recall, I think Heeseung is their best vocalist, but he’s also the center so he has a lot riding on him, and he could really use some good backup. I remember Sunoo also as a competent vocalist. Ni-ki demonstrably cannot sing, but he’s their main dancer and they have him as a rapper apparently so he’s not going to be expected to do it. He’s the only one I remember singing very poorly, and incidentally he’s the only member not listed as a vocalist, so I have to assume the others have at least some talent there that they’re working to cultivate.

      I don’t know what you mean exactly in terms of this “not being unique from their agency,” since BTS vocalists can (mostly) sing. I don’t know much about TXT though, maybe this comment is mostly directed at them?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. i absolutely love the chorus and bridge, the verses are ok. i mean i’m totally biased but i really like this song as a whole. it flows well and is exactly what i expected it to be.

    as for the album, the intro is great, i thought 10 months was cute but the definite stand out is let me in. overall i enjoy it. from a fans point of view this is all i could’ve asked for.

    side note: i wonder why they decided to change the key of flicker. my ears can’t get used to it after hearing the i-land version so many times. maybe it was to differentiate it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • oh I forgot to say, i’m not sure what their positions are but it’s kinda refreshing to hear all vocals. maybe it’ll change in the future but I hope it doesn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s quite refreshing to see your comment because of the positivity 🙂

        I do hope they don’t do the thing where they have different positions each comeback though.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I can’t say this song is a bad song. But just didn’t stand out to me. Generic? This song blends with other usual kpop bg’s songs. But not a bad song. I repeat, for one of the most anticipated rookie bg of all time, this song is not solid and pretty forgettable.

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  11. The best part of this is the harp. It reminds me of a 2016 BTS era song. Doesn’t tell me anything about them expect the fact BH want all their groups to have a certain “sound”.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Like you, Nick, I really like the ENHYPEN boys after watching ILAND. So I was looking forward to their debut, despite not loving that show’s music. Now… maybe I’m wrong here, but could it be that Bighit is not aware of what actually is the key to their artists’ success? Because I really think that what got BTS to where they are now is their personality, almost entirely, speaking as an ARMY here. I mean yes they’re extremely talented, but so are many other artists in the industry who haven’t amassed any fame. It’s that combination of talent and personality that makes magic happen, I think.

    The reason I bring this up is because ENHYPEN’s debut is so devoid of personality. We know from watching the show that the boys have plenty of it to spare, but it’s just not there– in terms of this track having its own distinct musical identity, but also their individual voices are lost to vocal processing, and the video feels somewhat bloated without the members having a lot of stand-out moments. I think Jay had some cool moments in the center, but I’ll have to watch their live stages to confirm this, since the MV did not do much to showcase any of the elements of their performance (dance or vocals). The most I thought while watching it was, “Wow Jay is cool, wow Sunghoon is good-looking.” Which is stuff we already knew.

    It also has some sort of… starving Victorian orphan vampires concept? I don’t know, it’s not like that concept doesn’t have the potential to be cool, I just felt this video was sort of all over the place, trying to do too many things at once… I’d rather see the boys enjoying themselves, you know?

    But you can’t always hit the ground running (I mean BTS didn’t either), so hopefully they won’t stay stuck in this autotune rut and they’ll start to develop their own musical color as time goes by. Fingers crossed.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Hi Nick, too many meaningless diversions is spot on. Methinks Big Hit should employ professional song EDITORS who make composers and artists cry before song release because they have to work very, very hard to improve every aspect of the song – content, structure and execution – to produce an incredible song, instead of an unnecessary I&credible song. Really, on their first day to “work” in their reality show Enhypen&Hi (I even watched this after I-land lol), Niki expressed his honest worries about probably having to sing bad songs like I&credible again.
    But the boys sure don’t have a say because they’ve been created to be successors of BTS who need to do conscription etc.

    For this okayish album I’m disappointed to see Heeseung leading everywhere instead of Jungwon who has the cleanest, most distinctive voice that’s sure to help Enhypen sound better and get closer to the
    much needed distinction.

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s an interesting point about Ni-ki. I kinda half-watched the 1st episode of EH&H so I missed that moment, but I will say he really seems to have an independent attitude and a mature mindset, especially as the youngest member and the only foreigner. I thought his decision to try to copy V’s “freestyle” move at the beginning of DNA was an interesting moment, too. He has a lot of drive and ambition and I’m glad they have him on the team, and wonder what kind of direction he’d want to go in if he had an ounce more creative control. (Maybe someday…)

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    • Honestly I was surprised that Jungwon was announced the leader instead of Heeseung. Not that I don’t think Jungwon can be a good leader, but it’s just sooo obvious that Heeseung leads this team even during Iland. Even Jungwon himself looks up to him as the leader. I think BigHit patterns Enhypen too much to BTS even their ‘leadership style’ where RM leads (not the oldest) which is interesting at that time. The difference is obviously RM has distinct leadership skills. I feel bad for Heeseung really.

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      • No need to feel bad for Heeseung, this appears to be his own decision. I also was surprised by the decision to make Jungwon leader over him, so I looked it up and found this clip where it’s made pretty explicit that the position was offered to Heeseung and he turned it down himself.

        This is consistent with how he seemed to feel during ILAND, too. Even though a lot of the members saw him as a leader from the beginning, the leader role wasn’t something that felt natural to him and though he adapted to it eventually, we saw him struggle with it a lot. Heeseung is now officially ENHYPEN’s center as well as their main vocalist, so making someone else the leader is a way of dividing up responsibilities more evenly.

        Personally, I’m happy to see that he is comfortable turning down a position like this, and that the group seemed to come to it in a somewhat democratic way. I’m sure there are many agencies where this is not the case.

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  14. I’m so surprised by all the negative comments! I haven’t followed I-land whatsoever, but I loved the song first listen which honestly very rarely happens. The harp riff hooked me instantly, and the ascending chord progression in the chorus with the fun alternating rising melody and lower more rhythmic response really worked for me; I had an instant emotional response.

    I concede the verses were a bit forgettable, and the video was meh, but I’m digging the song.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve been anticipating Enhypen’s debut since I was a fan of Iland, but ToT. This debut felt rushed and I don’t know if it’s just me but the mv production looks low budget considering all the money BigHit has. It looks more like an old prequel to BTS’ Blood sweat & tears. At least Txt’s debut song is more decent and well prepared. I really hoped BH put more effort to it since the boys are really talented. Still wishing they develop their vocals.

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  16. what’s with all the negative comments?

    I personally think enhypen’s given-taken was superb it wasn’t the same as other typical boy grouup crush concept. and y’all should know that its melanchonic the harp in the first part was a mood maker the mv itself does not focus on choreography but rather it focuses on artistry and even has portrayed the members acting I do prefer the live version but the mv is something pleasant to the ear. the entire album is a masterpiece it shows diversity and disticntness.

    i’ve been an army since 2013 but this concept does not remind me of bts (but the mv so-so but its because of lumpens) nor does it remind me of txt, although it the b tracks are quite similar, you have to remember that the members are literally kids which is why they blend in the concept and personality wise its perfect.
    I really love the intro but it doesnt mean that I dont prefer given taken.

    tbh a lot of my friends got into enhypen upon hearing the song without prejudiced most of them were armys or blinks and some that arent kpop fans but they fell in love with enhypen. en- didnt follow the trend with 2020 groups but they literally showed their capabilities with these song.

    i also need to point out the choreography. the choreography itself showed artistry and explains the song if y’all watch a performers reaction he explained the choreo on point.
    nevertheless for me enhypen really delivered an artistic title track that make it distinct among the others.

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    • when I say without prejudice its because they haven’t heard of enhypen yet during that time but they stan after the mv release and kept on listening i spotify,
      out of topic but i need to say this:
      i just need to say this but en also has tons of fanboys than fangirls when en didnt debut yet but now idk. and most of us are even older than en by 4-5 years. it actually depends on the person if you like the song or not but base on my observation those who didnt know about en and listened to the song the first time says they dig it cause of the insane flow of music hahahahaha

      Like

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