Review

Song Review: Jackson Wang – LMLY

Jackson Wang - LMLY
With so many idols (and former idols) branching into international markets, it’s becoming harder to decide which songs to write about on this blog. I mean, Jackson’s LMLY can hardly even be considered K-pop. It’s performed entirely in English by an artist who now works mainly in China. But, we can’t overlook Jackson’s history with GOT7 – a K-pop group that formed the impetus for his success as a soloist. Plus, LMLY is just a great pop song, so I’m willing to overlook some of my usual criteria.

I find Jackson’s evolution as an artist fascinating, and a testament to the benefits of creative control. For better or worse, JYP pigeon-holed him into a rapper position within GOT7, and his early solo work carried on that style. I was pretty hard on those early tracks, and they still feel like empty boasts from a performer who would have rather pushed his musical boundaries than simply extend his GOT7 persona. But over the past year or so, Jackson’s transformed into a competent pop star. He’ll never be the kind of “main vocal” powerhouse that K-pop groups require, but his scruffy performance oozes with character.

For LMLY, Jackson jumps onto the synth-pop bandwagon. The track’s pulsing production melds hazy electronics to a soft rock base, resulting in a melancholic atmosphere at odds with LMLY’s sprightly arrangement. It’s got a great melody – insistent and rhythmic in a way that pairs perfectly with the production. And though the song is quite repetitive in structure, the refrains are satisfying enough to overcome the lack of dynamic shifts. It’s not the kind of track that demands attention through bombast or braggadocio, but it will quietly work its way under your skin.

 Hooks 9
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.5

23 thoughts on “Song Review: Jackson Wang – LMLY

  1. Jackson is among a small number of musical artists whom I admire greatly, but do not favor any song from them. Jessi and Ravi are also on the list. Yes, Ravi. The careers they have carved out for themselves when and where so many others have tried is quite notable. For every dozen or more groups, there is perhaps one idol that breaks out from that group’s identity and fandom to have a viable career independent of the group, (A very recent example – Rose’s song and album have performed a fraction of what BlackPink as a whole sell-stream-watch-tweet-karaoke-etc)

    That said, yes, no, this song is not for me. Its a perfectly solid pop song, but just does not grab me.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. WOW!

    Jackson really oozes with charisma. I have been loving the retro influences here! Thank You Mr. Weekend. I really love the hooks here, so smooth but so upbeat. Though I Really Wish Jackson put a more forceful performance like Taemin did for Criminal.

    Nick! One Question in going off topic, can you tell me how you feel about the new ATEEZ Jp b-side, Still Here? It sounds good to me!

    Liked by 2 people

    • For me, its OK.
      It has it moments. The verse melody is lovely. The chorus actually sounds like its fits in the Ateez sound (I hear “Answer” to be more specific). That anthemic soaring call, solid melody, with hip hop grounding. Lots of bonus points for actually sounding like yourself!

      On the other hand, the construction throughout is rather workaday. 4 bars of this, 4 bars of that, now the prechorus, cue the trap, hold for one long line, and into the chorus, and so on. And once the chorus kicks in, they synth sounds they use are just overwhelming and brittle. The verses are sparer with synths, but that chorus synth is off-putting. I listened again on the laptop built in speaker on someone else’s lyric video, and yes its the song and not my current best earbuds or that particular lyric video.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I have the same problems too honestly, but the positives outweigh the negatives. Or Maybe because I just hate and want to choke I’m The One, so I just like anything which is infinitely better than that piece of trash, I really hope Nick likes it though!

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        • I’ll kill the anticipation by saying that I think it’s “fine.” It’s a solid album track, but nothing that I can muster up much enthusiasm for — especially given how strong other b-sides have been this month.

          Take Me Home, on the other hand… I’m getting nervous that this will be forever relegated to b-side status. Not that March needs any more competition, but it truly feels like “the title track that never was.” Here’s hoping April fixes that!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I need to check my meds, because this video made my heart ache. Maybe I need more sleep. I like the song well enough. I imagine it’ll get stuck in my head.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. His early songs were a bad ass wannabe mess but his last couple of releases, starting arguably with 100 Ways, have been really good.

    I think this type of sound suits him well and I hope he continues exploring more inside it! Pop Jackson is superior.

    Like

  5. I have been obsessed with his Galantis collaboration lately (“https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EjxIQXBhlc”). The behind the scenes of that MV really opened my eyes to how creative and passionate he actually is about the production process! My respect for him has definitely grown.

    Readers of comments will have seen me repeat it time and again: hazy electronics and synth-pop melancholics are not my style. The chorus on this is pretty strong though.. I can see this getting stuck in my head.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. First off, I enjoyed the song! Its nice to hear Jackson explore different styles. He’s always charming, and is a more versatile performer than what most give him credit for.

    However, I do also have an unrelated question. Nick! Why are you not covering Demian’s new song? I know he’s not from a traditional idol agency and he isn’t a dancer, but he’s basically swimming in the same waters as any idol soloist — for example Dawn is featuring on his latest track.

    I’m biased because I like the new track, but I also think it’s important to keep an eye on what artists like him represent in K-pop. Often, when people talk about globalization and K-pop, it’s in the direction of a K-pop agency moving into a foreign market (SNSD, KARA, BTS, etc.). Sony and Universal have traditionally been happy to cede the Korean market to domestic agencies, only partnering with them once their artists were big enough for foreign distribution. The teaming up of JYP and Sony for NiziU is a big shift in that relationship, but still one focused on promotion in a foreign market (the same goes for SuperM and Univeral). But Demian is a Sony artist and Youha, whose last song I loved, is a Universal artist. I think the big international labels may be testing the waters for larger involvement directly in Korean. For example, I think DEAN is a Universal artist as well. It may not be directly related to this, but Spotify’s decision to challenge Melon and Kakao also seems like a potentially seismic shift in the industry, and another example of western powers looking to factor into more than just foreign distribution.

    Sorry for the rant, but just cover Demian and we’ll be cool 🙂

    Like

    • Nick doesn’t always review the indie artists in Korea, just not his thing as much as the idols, or artists who are idol-like. I bring up Gaho every time he has a new release, with nairy a review from Nick. Not that I will ever stop mentioning Gaho, because he is awesome. Gaho, with a vocal range like a Korean Freddie Mercury. Nick! Gaho! Also Demian!

      But to take your point more broadly, not many kpop sites cover the breadth of Korean music anyway. The ballads are always ignored, unless its a solo by an idol. There is trot which is minimally covered unless you are Hong Jin-Young. OSTs get posted as a courtesy post on other sites with only a small handful of comments. The songs that are popular at karaoke, I mean, what are those? Every Day Every Moment was on the charts forever, probably still on the charts, and how many here would be able to recognize it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Basically what myma said.

        I rarely review non-idol-group-related artists unless I really, really love the song. It’s not that the music is bad. It’s just that this blog’s focus has always been on idol groups and their related projects. It’s partially a time issue (I can’t write about everything), but it’s also a preference issue.

        Idol pop isn’t something that really exists in the West anymore, so it’s what I look to K-pop/J-pop for. As good as some of these non-idol artists are, their music tends to feel closer to the sounds and styles I’m used to hearing locally. Because of this, there’s just not as much allure for me. On the other hand, when this music comes from idol soloists I feel obliged to cover it given The Bias List’s focus.

        That said, Love% is a total jam. It would have ranked in the 8’s for me. I’ll keep an eye on him.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. I find Jackson endlessly fascinating – he’s openly ambitious and willing to identify benchmarks for success that he wants to meet (including to get a song on the Billboard 100 – preferably, in his words, in the top 40).

    But his incredible charisma and magnetism haven’t really been matched by his solo music so far.

    This is the first Jackson song which really lives up to the scale of his ambitions and which seems to offer a path to the sort of global success he craves. (“Pretty Please” did fairly well in marrying his skill as a dancer and physical comedian to his music, but this takes that further by using his full range as an actor.)

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  8. I love me some synth pop, so I can definitely get behind this. It’s just a pleasant, airy song with a lovely chorus. Simple but good.

    I’m both surprised and glad to see Jackson releasing some great solo material, (him and Wonho have surprised me both in that regard). It’s also nice to see people pay attention to it. I liked “100 Ways,” and I was shocked to hear that playing on a radio station where I live in the middle of nowhere, USA. Here’s hoping that LMLY gets equal or greater attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Once I heard the intro to the song I was like “This is at least an 8 for Nick”. I just wish a better vocalsit sang this. Jackson isn’t terrible or anything, but there a bunch of singers who could overcome the repetition issue with “ornamentation” if you know what I mean

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I like this one. I have to say the synthpop is wearing on me. unfortunately, I just don’t feel that much variation from song to song in this genre-trend.

    But yah, on first listen I turned it off on the first because it just felt so indistinguishable. But on second listen I was definitely more interested because of Jackson’s performance and voice. It’s good and I am impressed by the total package.

    KINDA OT: I was also super interested to hear Jackson’s visual influences for the video. 90s hong kong. I don’t know too much Hong Kong cinema, but I love Taiwanese Second New Wave ala Tsai Ming Liang. Does anyone have any 90s HK cinema recommendations ???

    Like

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