Song Review: U-Know (Yunho from TVXQ) – Thank U

U-Know’s second mini album is themed around the movies, with a series of cinematic teasers leading up to the release of new single Thank U. Known as a passionate performer, he’s the perfect conduit for an ambitious project like this, and his old-school sense of showmanship is always welcome in the K-pop industry. Thank U pairs him with frequent collaborator Yoo Young-Jin, alongside a team of younger songwriters.

While I wouldn’t necessarily call Thank U “new” (especially for those of us who have listened to K-pop for a while), but it is refreshingly different from most of the material coming out of the industry right now. Its brittle dance beat recalls mid 00’s pop, fused with tense synth strings and touches of brass that feel as if they should be soundtracking the adventures of a conquistador. It’s not a complex blend of elements, but they work very well together to forge an addictive groove.

I often complain about the use of “sing-talk” in K-pop tracks, but Thank U’s verses show how effective it can be when given a tight structure and purpose. U-Know’s raps have always had an impish quality, but his performance here is more like the delivery of a monologue. It may not be technically impressive, but it’s emotive and convincing in its own way. I love the shouting that’s interspersed into these moments. It hearkens back to classic TVXQ tracks without feeling like a pastiche. Thank U‘s chorus is also more talking than singing, but when it delivers moments of harmonized melody, they’re all the more potent. More importantly, each and every element works together to bolster the song’s addictive rhythm. Even as most of the percussion pulls away for a standout, vocal-led bridge, Thank U never loses its spark.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75

12 thoughts on “Song Review: U-Know (Yunho from TVXQ) – Thank U

  1. I’ve never been big on boy groups, but I’ve been more drawn to the solo work of the 2nd gen guys now that they’re a bit older. I agree with you on this review and also liked how playful this song was. Especially thought the “first/second/third rule” sections were kitschy and fun.

    Also… phew, that is QUITE a video. Having avoided 99.9% of boy group work, this video really raised an eyebrow (I’m guessing this may be more overtly violent than many of them, yes?). The production quality is spot on and I appreciate the strong Wong Kar-wai vibes, but this is much more graphic than your average kpop video, and I applaud the effort and willingness to step out of the box. (For sure don’t want this to become a trend, but that may be my Sensitive Westerner side showing.)

    Liked by 4 people

    • This is absolutely more overtly violent than what boy groups usually go for. Especially gun violence is not common – at least from what I’ve seen. Maybe my bias towards fun concepts kept me unaware? I can only remember one or two other examples of an MV like this, BAP’s One Shot (2013) being one of them.

      I’m also not big on violent imagery. The way it’s used here, I do think it works. The MV is gorgeous and has a dramatic storyline.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Its a no from me. The song itself is okayish, although I would have to seek out the lyric video to find The Song.
    The video. I am really tired of videos and movies and and that glamorize this kind of violence.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really enjoyed the cinematic aspect of this mini as a whole, but especially Thank U. It’s definitely not a song I would expect to fit noir (& I also avoid that genre), but the mv makes it work perfectly. I thought it did a really good job of portraying the elements of noir without being overwhelming. The showmanship really carries the song. I agree with your rating.


  4. surprised at how much i liked this. i’ve been more of a fan of changmin’s just because yunho’s voice is just a tad grating on my ears but this is fun – totally agree that it’s his delivery of the song leaning into the dramatics of a spoken monologue rather than being a “song.” he’s not remaking the wheel, but the theatrics are the selling point and make it great especially with the first / second / third counts.

    as for the mv, i like how cinematic it is and it’s probably the best one from sm (not nct related) in a while. it’s simple and reuses the kick it set to lean into the kill bill-ness or yakuza (the video game series) feel of it. i understand that the bloodiness is a bit much for people though; i look forward to when we live in a future where everyone labels potential warnings before showing imagery glorifying this aesthetic but i’m not sure how soon that is.


  5. I gotta give credit to Yunho and Yoo Youngjin for not giving in to ‘trends’. This is old-school Kpop slightly tinged with jazz. Really love the bridge – Yunho’s vocals!! He really improved A LOT.

    How do you find the whole album, Nick?


    • I don’t think it quite lives up to True Colors for me, but that’s a high bar. I really like every single song, though, which is a rarity these days. It’ll be hard to pick a buried treasure.

      I’m very eager to hear Eeny Meeny!


  6. I thought the narration and chorus was kinda corny, like…..thank you for diss? Thank you for dislike me? But, i managed somehow to grew on me. It’s a pretty fun song overall, i would love if more action movie inspired music could come out from k-pop

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The song is fun, barring the really. substantial clash in tone between “bloody revenge plot” and “thank you for dislike me.” What I had a lot more fun doing was imagining the Russian roulette scene but with NCT 127 in the other room over practicing their high kicks with the guitar loop on blast. Yunho’s gambling with his life over here while the guys are shouting about introducing some new thangs. Opposing crime boss dude aims the gun but right at that moment Johnny comes crashing through the wall bass kick swinging like a Bruce Lee.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I came into kpop just too late to experience the most active years of groups like TVXQ – I don’t know anything about them. Despite that, I can instantly tell that this guy is a performer with years and years of experience. He makes the sing-talk not only ‘nice’ but actually compelling- especially interchanged with the shouting, it’s my favourite part.

    The video is a small work of art and really elevates the song for me (although the chorus’ lyrics seemed a little too goofy in contrast). I can see why some dislike the amount of violence shown in a dramatic, ‘cool’ way.

    Liked by 1 person

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