Song Review: GHOST9 – Seoul

Rookie group GHOST9 have blitzed the market with music since their September debut. Three mini albums in less than seven months is quite a feat, and will hopefully give them a foothold within the ever-competitive idol landscape. Their previous two releases were billed as “Pre Episodes,” positioning this new one as the main course. As such, the guys have focused on the city of Seoul as both a setting and inspiration.

As specific as the song’s content is, its production suffers a bit of an identity crisis. Seoul can’t figure out if it wants to be hard-hitting hip-hop, glitchy EDM or smooth synthwave. All these elements are thrown into a blender, giving the track a messy – sometimes even dissonant – quality. On first listen, this was a major turn-off. But, Seoul is salvaged by a great chorus, which anchors the track’s more indulgent moments.

The instrumental’s sputtering EDM attack is quite abrasive, centered around a descending swirl of electronics that gives the track a confrontational energy. Taken on its own, I think this loop is quite fun. But, I’m not sure that the rap during the verses completely matches its delivery, leading to a chaotic mix. In contrast, Seoul’s chorus brings the polish. The production fills out and we get a taste of the vocal firepower that first piqued my interest in GHOST9. Its towering refrain blends well with the dramatic synth supporting it, and this hook just gets better and better each time it repeats. Seoul is the rare K-pop track that repelled me on first listen, but is already proving itself to be more satisfying than I’d first thought. Even better, the mini album itself is fantastic.

 Hooks 9
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8

13 thoughts on “Song Review: GHOST9 – Seoul

  1. I love the chorus and the bridge (which ends up evolving into the last chorus), I think they know how to bring a striking melody even though the verses are kind of a mess. I’m with you on this one, it took me a few listens but I enjoy it a lot now.

    They have a lot of potential, I’m interested to see what type of sound they bring us in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alright, so, this is playing to their base. It has all the theatrical sound and look that one would expect, plus enough contemporary elements in the style of rap and dance to make the younger fans happy. I also found the the initial 20-some seconds to be jarring for my taste but it is the sound they all use now. There are also a lot of positives. When you think they should go big, they went big, particularly the chorus, the arena-friendly oh-oh-oh sing along over the chorus, the cool cgi, the location sets for the k-fans, a touch of hanbok here and there. Tick, and tick, and tick, and …

    Me? Well, its ok. I am not the target demographic, which is code for I feel old listening to it.

    OT Speaking of old, “My kind of town, Chicago is” Hubby had on a live double vinyl album of Frank Sinatra last night. It has the same appeal as what Ghost9 is going for – except that it is Sinatra, with Count Basie orchestra, and Quincy Jones producing, and thus with this level of quality the record has lasted over 50 years and is still awesome. He plays this vinyl more often than he would admit to, perhaps once a month. So here is hoping Ghost9 hits the same longevity nerve with their fans on this release. ‘

    Further OT: Band on barge? U2 “Gloria” ‘ They’re only 20-21-22 years old here. Really, Larry and the Edge are only 20 here, Bono 21, Adam 22, which is about the same age as the older Ghost9’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Chorus here is absolutely magnificent, It’s so overpowering and amazing! Whereas the rest of the song is kind of…….interesting? these segments feel more unneeded but I like how it tries for experimentation. Just wish the song could have managed much better, I am really excited for GHOST9’s future and watching them grow makes me feel excited for sure!

    I think Reborn and Dawn handled these lumbering structures exceptionally, They were streamlined and highlighted their choruses and instrumentals to the point of not feeling grating.

    Also, Nick! What’s your choice for buried treasure? UNO? Starvoy? Hide and Seek? Monday To Sunday?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I hope it’s “UNO”. Kind of reminds me of two my favorite ATEEZ songs “Dazzling Light” and “Horizon.”

      Everything on the mini album is great except for the verses of “SEOUL.” The transition from the verse to the chorus is SO jarring.


  4. I don’t like Ghost9 project and I don’t know if they deserve better than this noisy random pastiche, but for sure Seoul – as one of the most pleasant and charming city in the world – deserves better than this noisy random pastiche to be glorified.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They definitely do deserve better, Paper Maker can definitely make a good song. If they pinpoint their strengths and stop messing with their arrangement, they might hit it with the park in the form of a showstopper.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I like this more than their previous two titles. I think it’s cos this one has pace and I felt as if Think of Dawn was a bit too clunky for me.


  6. I’ll have to pass. The chorus and the bridge, for me, cannot make up for the rest of the song, which is attempting to break apart my eardrums. I’m scared it will succeed if I don’t turn it off now.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Omg the verses are so disorienting- BUT THE CHORUS 😍😍 They know how to have a killer chorus. I will have to get used to the weird verses because I love the style of their chorus so much.

    Their concept is something I really dig (vibe with? Wholeheartedly support?) and I can’t wait to see how they continue to evolve. I mean I even bought their album this time so…I’m here for them.


  8. GHOST9 is really reminding me of my non official group CLRS. Not the verses, but the choruses always have some similarities. From the towering refrains to the megawatt vocal performances, just excellent. Maybe that’s why I am so biased for GHOST9?

    For Seoul’s chorus, I am getting reminded of “La Scarlett Rose”.


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