Billed primarily as a winter single, King & Prince’s I Promise is the kind of sentimental pop song you could listen to year-round. After a 2020 filled with diverse sounds, the track brings them right back to the sweet style found on their blockbuster 2018 debut Cinderella Girl. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before, but the track is a very satisfying listen if you enjoy this kind of thing.
Taken on their own, King & Prince’s vocals can be quite nasally, but I’ve always loved their blend. Even in the Johnny’s pantheon – which is known for unison singing – their combination has a unique flair. And, it’s best put to use on songs like I Promise. The track is a whole J-drama crammed into four minutes, complete with an emotional (and confusing!) music video. It does that thing that J-pop does best: provide a surging instrumental with the emotion of a ballad but the energy of a dance track. It’s a recipe I happen to adore, and I Promise’s strings-laden production goes down easy. Yes, we know exactly what we’re going to get, but that doesn’t make it any less pleasant.
I could say the same about the song’s chorus, which snowballs into the kind of rousing singalong that J-pop idols have been delivering for decades. The verses are enjoyable, but the real meat is in that hook – right where it should be. It has a sweeping urgency to it, a belt-it-out fervor that belies the inherent cheesiness of this sort of melodrama. This is a balance that King & Prince pull off particularly well.