Song Review: Yukika – Insomnia

Yukika - InsomniaYukika made her Korean debut just before the city pop revival took hold. This puts her in an enviable position. She comes across as a cool trendsetter, yet can also reap the benefits of that trend becoming more widespread. Her 2020 album was consistently strong, with the beguiling Yesterday positioning itself as a modern classic of the genre. Her new mini album continues the city pop vibe, yet loses the magic touch of the Monotree production team.

This style of music can be twisted in a few ways, as fellow soloists Sunmi and IU have already proven. Insomnia chooses to play things straight down the middle, and suffers from a feeling of “been there, done that.” I’m sure city pop fans will be over the moon, but I kept waiting for the song to jolt me awake. Instead, its subdued, atmospheric production is relentlessly smooth. It’s quite pretty, and would make a great soundtrack to chill out to. But as you probably know by now, I don’t really do “chill.” I’m not some hyped-up caffeine machine either, but when it comes to pop music I crave dynamic sounds and big moments.

Still, Yukika makes a great conduit for this style of sound. Insomnia rounds a few delightful melodic turns, and its twinkling synths are just icy enough to evoke an emotional tug. Had the song found a pre-chorus as transcendent as Yesterday’s, I think this could have been a real standout. It doesn’t need to be some bombastic club anthem, but I wish they kicked the energy up just a bit.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7

4 thoughts on “Song Review: Yukika – Insomnia

  1. First of all, Yukika does a fine job here, well done.

    I have really truly come to the understanding that the city pop is not for me, neither from now or from back when. I have listened to more of it this month than I had ever done before from helpful links that other regulars have suggested.

    I perfectly understand the appeal – there are times when my hubby gets in the same mood and I hear city-pop-like sounds from his vinyl stash, mostly in English English, and I get to hear it all evening or all weekend or something. Then and now it sounds like Smooth Jazz with vocal to me. Weather Channel music. (The Weather Channel on cable TV used to play smooth jazz when there wasn’t an announcer. There are now youtube extended plays and spotify playlists of Weather Channel music for people nostalgic for this sound. ‘

    I would just much rather listen to old R&B that has more groove and soul to it –

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read enough of this blog that I absolutely knew you wouldn’t vibe with this song. Meanwhile, it’s been on repeat ever since it released.

    I absolutely love the melody and the bass. At least to my ears, it’s very authentically city pop, like most of her songs mostly feel like. It’s definitely more reminiscent of the laid-back city pop/indie style music rather than her previous songs which did have a bit more energy. It’s still more poppy in that it’s still got a really satisfying and somewhat catchy chorus that I actually really like.

    Perhaps my biggest complaint with the song is the lack of a definitive climax. There’s definitely a point in the song where you could say the tension rises enough in the instrumental break/bridge, but it’s definitely not the most pointed climax nor is it particularly high. Not a big detriment though. I love songs that can catch my entire attention, but I also love songs that I can casually dance and vibe to that doesn’t exhaust me with energy. Insomnia is a song I find very relaxing and comforting but still somewhat upbeat and avoiding being too sleepy like other indie songs I suppose.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The queen is back. Now I absolutely adore Yukika’s music and this is no exception. It does definitely take a more laid back city pop route compared to some of the 70s/80s hits I love but it’s still so fresh and fun. I will concede that she makes songs that don’t really latch on to my ADHD brain at the first listen due to that very static energy and lack of distinctive climax that everyone else in the comments has pointed out. But that just means that I’m left with no choice but to binge listen her music. She’s an artist that never fails to put a smile on my face and she makes truly enjoyable groovable music which is shockingly rare now a days. Sparkly is a good way to describe her songs but it’s not flashy or gaudy. It definitely has the City Pop glimmer. I haven’t finished the album yet but Love Month seems like a real standout. It definitely has more of a build and more energy than Insomnia.

    Liked by 1 person

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