Thus far, AleXa has made her name on high-octane dance tracks, designed primarily to showcase her choreography and concept. It’s somewhat surprising, then, that she’s returned with a stripped-down ballad. Of course, it is the winter season, and January has a history of being very ballad-heavy when it comes to K-pop. I imagine that AleXa’s management is eager to sidestep any ‘one-trick pony’ labels, and have dubbed this sentimental version of AleXa “AleXa H.” Okay, then.
When it comes to ballads, it takes something very special to catch my attention. There’s nothing better than a fantastic pop ballad, but too often I find myself eager to move past the sentiment and get to the fun, up-tempo stuff. With this in mind, Never Let You Go (오랜만이야) is unlikely to stop me in my tracks. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad song. And, AleXa (H!) goes a long way toward selling it, even if her performance feels a little restrained.
The melody is soft and inviting throughout, coasting along expected tropes but hitting its mark more often than not. Similarly, the piano and strings-laden instrumental hits a familiar note. If you’ve heard any mainstream pop ballad of the past thirty years, you’ve basically heard Never Let You Go already. There’s some comfort to that, but without one defining moment, the song threatens to fade into the background. Yet, Never Let You Go achieves its aim. It casts AleXa as a more versatile pop star than first thought. Now, she just needs to find more memorable material.