Song Review: Highlight – Not The End

Highlight - Not The EndThough they’re short two original members, Highlight have become one of K-pop’s longest-running groups thanks to a rebranding and revitalization in 2017. Perhaps unsurprisingly, their new single Not The End (불어온다) seems to spring directly from that year’s musical trends, feeling like an outtake from their earlier work rather than a new push forward.

Highlight have been absent from promotions since 2018, so it makes sense that their sound might lag behind current trends. And, it’s not like the group has anything to prove. They’ve served their time as trend-setting idols, and now it’s time to reap the rewards. Not The End plays more like a promise – a recommitment to the career they’ve chosen. It’s sentimental to the max, but doesn’t forget to deliver a few musical peaks.

The song’s verses are largely forgettable, trudging along with a measured hesitance rather than embracing the bombast of the chorus. The synth-heavy instrumental drapes the track in drama, paying off with a grand drop reminiscent of B1A4’s excellent 2017 hit Rollin. This drop-as-chorus format feels like a missed opportunity, but Not The End smartly tacks on a melodic refrain. At its best, the song surges with a majestic drive. It boasts a few satisfying touches that keep it from sounding like a dated copycat, such as the influx of filtered guitar that fuels the bridge. In fact, I really think the instrumental is the star of Not The End‘s show. It’s derivative at every turn, but harnesses a welcome sense of optimism.

 Hooks 7
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.25

13 thoughts on “Song Review: Highlight – Not The End

  1. The vocal performance is lovely. The song is …. well. Coincidentally on my youtube suggestion feed this morning was one called “When you accidentally write songs that already exist part 3”. I feel like we are on at least part 3 of this style of kpop drop chorus.

    Semi-related topic: for this month’s installment of city pop revivial, Yesung released “Beautiful Night” this morning. The vocal is performance is lovely, the song is … well. Those here who have yearned for more brass in their city pop should appreciate the sax presence. ‘


  2. The song somehow sold me immediately as soon as the chorus hit me. I don’t know, there’s something about the song that made me like it very much. Maybe because of its melancholic tone? I probably will know someday…

    Setting that aside, the song’s good, but not great like their past title tracks. Like you mentioned, the instrumental is what brought the song to its full form. The arrangement was nice, especially that neat build up of energy from start to finish; though the short verses make it a little bit awkward for my liking. Overall, it’s pretty solid.

    Now, what made this only good, but not great? For me, I think it’s the lack of a memorable melody. The instrumental was strong enough to make me stay, but the melody felt so simple and a little lacking for me. Maybe because the song’s sentimental approach is why the melody is what it is? Hmm, possible answer to me…

    Rating is 8.75 for me. Lucky that my bias played the role in this moment lmao


  3. I was aware of Highlight when they were active (as Beast) but I was not particularly knowledgeable about them or their music. Nonetheless, seeing them back feels so good. It’s always amazing to see groups still going strong and Highlight adding to this year of the second gen comebacks makes me nostalgic and predisposed to liking this song a whole lot more than I normally might have, perhaps.

    I still find this song very soothing in a way because the melody comes across as very familiar, and I quite like that. While I could have wished for something more daring and innovative musically (especially with the chorus), I also don’t mind when artists come back after a long break with something that reminds us of where they left off. And the vocals in here are so lovely – I’ve known Yoseob is a great singer and I’m glad there’s a new album to hear more from him and the rest. Overall, this was pleasant and a great (re)introduction for the group – and I’m very glad to see it.


  4. This is totally my style. I fell in love with it right away, and the post-chorus solidified that feeling even more. I think the slowdown in the bridge is a bit too much, but that’s really my only complaint. The new material after is really refreshing before the instrumental chorus comes back. This is a 9 for me.


  5. remind me of Tried To Walk – B1A4, now i wish it was more that then their previous release LOVED. I think their many missed opportunities in this track but still solid.


  6. This one reminds me of Seventeen’s “Don’t Want to Cry”! The song’s not really to my taste (esp compared to their older stuff as BEAST), but I’m happy for them.


  7. Yeah, this is a spring version of Loved (from 2018) and I prefer this sound more to them. Props for bringing the post-chorus refrain. At least, they gave us a hook to latch after the drop chorus.


  8. I like this very much. This is the first song I’ve heard from them and I’m going to have to investigate. I love their voices, particular the one of the guy in the beret. It’s a comforting song that reminds me of something I can’t put my finger on.


    • Oh my, you have a lot of fun catching up to do!

      I’m more partial to their work as Beast, with my favorite albums being 2014’s Good Luck and 2013’s Hard To Love, How To Love.

      But, 2011’s Fiction is their big classic song, and their first few releases as Highlight are definitely worth checking out as well!


  9. What can I say, I’ve been a B2UTY/Light for so long and I absolutely love this! I love how it’s showcasing their vocals, and aside from Yoseob being his usual brilliant self, I’m also loving Dongwoon’s tone in this.

    That said, I’m still missing Junhyung and can’t help but wonder what their comeback would’ve been with him at the helm.


  10. The song is lacking originality as if it’s already played out in numerous songs prior. Some of the voices in the song doesn’t suit their vocal. I think they tried hard to connect the bridge but failed at execution. In the end, the song itself is what Loved went wrong.


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