Song Review: Checkmate – You

Checkmate - YouIt’s been a rocky road for rookie group Checkmate. With only two songs under their belt, they’ve already undergone major shifts in configuration. They debuted as five last September, but now they’re down to four with the departure of vocalist/rapper Nason and the quick arrival/departure of Haechang, who never even got to participate in any of the group’s proper comebacks. Something’s clearly going on at Grace Company Entertainment, and it doesn’t inspire confidence.

Checkmate’s music doesn’t exactly inspire confidence either. It feels like a poor man’s copy of KARD, who themselves have been been stuck in a musical rut of late. I’m not thrilled at the lack of imagination when it comes to co-ed groups in K-pop. It seems like the industry only has one lane for these acts, and that charm was largely exhausted after KARD’s great run of 2016-17 singles. Checkmate’s You plays like a less-engaging version of those tracks, complete with an attitude-driven performance and sputtering percussion.

Fantastic songs can definitely be spawned from this template, but You lacks conviction in its melodies. Its hook is sinuous and sexy, but never grows into anything dynamic. The song feels more like a straight line than a fully-realized story, and that monotony grows thin even with You’s short running time. Given Checkmate’s diverse set of vocalists, I would hope for a greater sense of individuality. Unfortunately, none of the performances stand out, and the languid repetition of the hook doesn’t offer much opportunity to shine.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7

11 thoughts on “Song Review: Checkmate – You

  1. Off Topic (or is it? hmm…):

    Does this ever happen to anyone else? You start watching a music video for the first time, you get about one minute into it and think to yourself, “It’s a decent song but it’s not really my thing.”, then you’re left with the inclination to click out of the page, but.. know the agencies watch the statistics for their videos. It shows when people dump out of a video midway; which usually means it wasn’t well received.

    So, do you keep watching till the end so the agency will think, “Hmm, they must have at least liked it because they watched till the end.”, or just close the page because, “Hey, my personal time is worth more than trying to make some miniscule, perhaps pointless, effort to help a group out?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • YES! I mean, No, No of course not. Ok maybe.

      I do try to listen through a song once the whole way through. Only the worst songs do I click off. But if I get bored with the visual or the video creeps me out, I start typing my thoughts on another window in a wordd doc or in the comment box while the second half plays. This video here, I scrolled down after some thirty seconds.

      But if the video has one of those long intros or even worse long end credits, then yes I may and usually stop it., or click along the bottom in increments until it actually starts. Jackson the other day had a full 2 or 3 minutes replaying part of the song over end credits and outtakes. I guess his camp don’t care about video length versus streaming replays. (qv Rose’s solo which iirc was only about 3 minutes even.)

      There are a few intros which have become part of the song for me – Super Junior Mr Simple comes to mind – with an interesting musical melody that complements the song and has become part of it. I miss the intro when I am playing the song from my ipod.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I know I’m in trouble when my eyes shift away from an mv before it’s finished. Luckily, the nature of this blog forces me to listen to the song several more times. Occasionally, something new will catch my attention. But yeah, if I have no desire to finish the mv the first time I watch it, that doesn’t bode well…

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, I got half way and lost interest in seeing the rest, but I don’t think the group should suffer for my lack of interest; it just wasn’t my cup of bubble tea. So, I let it play all the way through so they would get full credit for the full viewing, rather than close the window and have my session get tagged as abandoned.

        In essence, I wasted my time staying on the page because I’m trying to do a good deed for a song I wasn’t fully interested in. I’m a fool with good intent; and questionable methodologies.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I have always been to see the complete product to see if something minimally catches my attention. I do not know if I am a masochist or if this will change when I have less time to relax but for now I have not gone crazy. (?)

      Liked by 1 person

    • This is interesting because I have had this thought before! However, unless it is a group I personally have a connection to, I am very selfish in this regard. The instant I get bored it’s over. That’s why this blog is useful for me – it motivates me to listen to songs all the way through when I usually would have skipped them after the opening notes.

      (Interestingly I am not this way when it comes to, say, anime – I work through multiple episodes before giving up on something.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. KARD’s early songs haven’t aged well for me. Eventually I started skipping them every single time they came around, and now no current playlist has any.

    Its not a terrible song, but it doesn’t do much right. The production just meets expectations. They throw in the usual instrumental sounds and nothing more. The glissando you-oooh oooh oooh could have been done better. Its the kind of line that you practice for a day to figure out what flavor it needs, like how an actor practices a single line highlighting a single word in turn to get to the right intonation.


  3. I really enjoyed the bridge of this song, I wish that arrangement was carried into the final chorus. The production during the chorus really threw me off ( I couldn’t groove), so I was reallly hoping they would change it up for the last one.


  4. I thought the song was nice, there was a nice groove to it that I could see myself enjoying if I was in a certain mood. However, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that I had heard the prechorus before (I’m not sure about terminology, but it would be around 0:25 seconds). When I looked it up, sure enough, it sounds very similar to that in KARD’s Gunshot ( around 0:50 seconds) just modulated to a different key and split between the two female vocalists. I don’t mind this similarity necessarily, as it has a nice melody line, but it seems interesting to me that Checkmate’s producers would want to mirror the only other co-ed group out there.

    Liked by 1 person

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