Song Review: Everglow – First

Everglow - First
Last September, Everglow reinvented themselves as retro synth warriors, releasing one of the year’s best songs in the process. La Di Da was immensely satisfying, finding a megawatt melody to match the girls’ always-impressive presence. Their charisma continues to flourish in the newly released First, but the song struggles to find a hook worth raving about.

I don’t often comment on styling, but both the video and images for this comeback give me serious 90’s J-pop vibes. I can’t help but wish the song followed suit, charging forward with an addictive rhythm and breathless energy. Instead, First borrows many tropes found in boy group hype tracks. While grand and imposing, the instrumental plods where it should soar. To their credit, the producers imbue this familiar structure with dynamic flourishes, Many of the song’s phrases round off with an unexpected element, whether in the form of a symphonic stab or an extra jolt of percussion. I also love the bed of theatrical vocals that underpin the bridge.

However, I’m tired of these big, ballsy instrumentals that fail to find an addictive rhythm. What happened to songs like T-ara’s Sugar Free? Its textures and samples aren’t all that different from First, but Sugar Free had drive. It had forward-moving momentum, rather than a series of aggressive beat drops. First’s towering chorus shows promise, but its verses are repetitive and forgettable. They’re essentially the same two melodic phrases repeated over and over, giving the track a predictable flow that feels borrowed from so many other tracks. The song’s bombast carries it over the line, but this is quite disappointing as a follow-up to La Di Da.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7

79 thoughts on “Song Review: Everglow – First

  1. Very sad and disappointing, considering their last release was the best girl group song of last year. What’s even more surprising is that this came from the same producers of LA DI DA too. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is an amazing b-side though.

    + looks like BigHit got rid of the excessive vocal processing on TXT’s new album (minus a few tracks), I couldn’t be happier to hear the boys’ vocals sounding normal and unrobotic.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m really enjoying this song. This feels like Everglow taking a concept they’re comfortable with and pushing it in a new direction. I feel like the production is actually quite energetic without faltering into pure noise. But I share the opinion that driving energy just means 4 on the 4 kicks and the sort of arpeggiated synths that you just hold one note and they go…

    The vocals are rap-focused but there’s a melodicism even in the most chanted moments. Capping off without that zinger melody in the second half of the chorus, that moment feels really climatic and hooky. I love the operatic and chromaticism/dissonance elements employed across the song. The very contemporary instrumental also is just firing off on all accords. No moment feels faltering, the whole thing is charismatic exciting!

    I am really enjoying this song and accompanying performance/mv. I feel like Everglow took lessons learned in La di Da and brought it back in a fusion with their girl crush.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. The layered vocals were a nice touch. The chorus towers but it just feels reused. The instrumental is interesting at places but just aims to be bombastic rather than find an actual rhythm. Also, the MV reminded me of odd eye and god’s menu.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Another Crossroads/Labyrinth, Fireworks/Take Me Home situation where the main b-side is infinitely better than the title track.

    Don’t Ask Don’t Tell may be my favourite kpop song of the year so far. That vocal performance is so, so good!
    I like First and the ballad too, but DADT is several steps ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think DADT is actually pretty good, but I wouldn’t know if it gets a Buried Treasure. I think I like the song most for it’s DADT hook with the chord underpinning it and some of the production. However, while it might be Nick’s alley, the rap sections and the repetitive nature of the chorus might be too much for him.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I seriously never got the A&R team for both groups, you had Take Me Home and Fireworks. You look at TMH then look back at FW, then you look back at TMH…One song clearly uses ATEEZ’s talent immensely and showcases everything great about them while filtering it through a new style. Whereas one song is something they have done before, minues the charm. So…what do you pick? Ah! Fireworks! *slaps A&R team’s face*

      I’ll kind of excuse GFriend’s case since Crossroads was pretty good…but Labyrinth just sounds incredible! It clearly sounds like a title track…so why didn’t you choose that?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Personally, I prefer Next Level of all 3 songs but I definitely enjoy this wayyyyy more than Mafia.
      Not too much about that MAFIA has grown on me besides the versus and level of performance…
      this one feels like a more original approach to the concept that MAFIA is also aiming for.

      Next Level is a love for me so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


    • ANY release this year is better than Mafia in the Morning by any of the big girl groups who are in the same generation. I don’t care how much of a powerhouse Itzy down or whether it’s a grower in terms of longevity, I can’t force myself to like ot. Next Level is alright (not fourth-gen but I know it was mentioned in the post) but again, weak compared to Black Mamba. First is okay too, disappointing when LaDiDa was such a bop (and deserved LOADS of wins which it, unfortunately and unfairly, did not get) but not terrible compared to previous releases. Hwaa is probably still the best girl group release this year from 4th gen, but I’m pretty surprised I’m still saying that in May, and even then, there were issues with the song, like the abrupt ending. I’m starting to worry that a lot of 4th gen girl group songs are just losing meaning and being substituted by big annoying synth or heavy beat rhythmic tracks. I expected more from Everglow and Itzy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I really feel you.

        Big girl groups are not taking the cake right now… so I’ve gone to minor rookies to provide. STAYC (check out SO BAD and ASAP) and Weeekly (see After School). More cutesy, yes, but they also solid good quality songs.

        I also quite liked Ponzona by Purple Kiss (this song confuses me but I like it?) and WJSN’s two recent comebacks, though they are not technically super good. I also somehow have taken to SECRET NUMBER’s Got That Boom (I would say idk why, but I do. it has brass. so I love it).

        And now, honorable mentions. TRI.BE has fun summery Latin American inspired pop; and HOT ISSUE has most confusing (yet somehow mediocre???) debut with GRATATA.

        Rookies that do not float my boat. PIXY is just… why.. why so noisy; and LUNARSOLAR wasn’t bad, but it seemed even more like generic pop than everyone else.

        Researching this made me realize how these minor rookie ggs are actually doing better than expected. It’s mostly international fans, but hey, if int-fans can keep you alive until you get k-fans, you take it! It also made me realize… where is our good gg music gonna come from?????? Even now, I’m pulling all these rookies out of nowhere… I guess we’ll figure it out!


  5. Oof. Definitely hated it. While there is an entire comment I prewrote… it’s so very mean that instead I will say that I felt tired after listening than I did before.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. This is definitely not to my taste. It just sounds…noisy. I don’t think it will grow on me, as Next Level seems to be. Next Level has more variation, though. To me this sounds like one long stretch of the same noise.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I actually loved the song, the girls have a ton power and finesse to pull off pretty much anything, and the fact that they come from a smaller company, but can easily match up against the big company girl groups such as itzy and aespa speaks for itself 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Man, haven’t seen such a precipitous drop in quality between comebacks since Under Cover >> Savage. Okay, I exaggerate. Much as I love La Di Da Undercover is better, and Savage is still much worse than this is. Still, very disappointing. It feels like Adios all over again — tedious posturing. Dun Dun, for all its braggadocio, at least cut the shit and gave us a really, really fun track. This is back to their worst tendencies.

    And what’s with that shit snare (or is it a tom?) noise in the verses? Am I listening to St. Anger again?

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Personally I feel like this should have gone to Yuehua’s up and coming boy group because this doesn’t have any “Everglow juice” in it at all. It just feels kind of dehydrated. I’ll listen to it but it makes me sad that this song kind of sticks out like a sore thumb in their discography


  10. Wow I hate this so much! But I like the trend I’m seeing in the comments of keeping it nice and succinct. You know what they say, if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all. Well, I love their hair and makeup in this video. Onda especially looks great. Great gowns, beautiful gowns.

    Liked by 5 people

  11. honestly it sounds like pretty standard 4th gen bg fare, maybe a bit on the better end of the scale. ateez called they want their song back.

    btw, angerme dropped the mvs for all three of the songs off their upcoming single and theyre AMAZING you should check them out

    oyegenai mermaid
    aisare route a or b
    hakkiri shiyouze

    Liked by 1 person

    • ATEEZ did call and they want their song back… I think Eden and Buddy could’ve switched it up to make this a true banger.


  12. This song has good moments, This song has bad moments and unfortunately…it makes for a disjointed piece of music. The Pre-Chorus shows a lot of potential, like a LOT of potential….

    Liked by 3 people

    • Starting to feel like this about nearly every kpop release as of late. I don’t know anything about songwriting, but it sure looks like it’s a hell of a lot easier to build insane momentum in a pre-chorus than it is to keep that going in the chorus. Lots of recent releases seem to have absolutely gorgeous pre-choruses and bridges that jump off a cliff into a boring drop chorus.

      Liked by 4 people

      • I don’t think it’s particularly that hard to find a similarly strong melody for the chorus, but the beat drop’s the direction they’re going in because a lot of people seem to enjoy it nowadays.

        Liked by 2 people

  13. It sounds like any other boygroups’ songs. And I do think some part of the song sounds like oneus’ no diggity, and sihyeon chorus part sounds fimiliar but I can’t caught on that one yet

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Honestly, I think the song itself is alright, but the shot selection, editing and choreography are fantastic IMO. These elements make the song way more enjoyable but yeah, both the instrumental and melody definitely do not have the drive of ‘La Di Da’.

    Liked by 5 people

    • It was one of those videos where the pre-video intro was quite good. The pulsing symphonic strings, the little start stop shake effect on the full group shot.


    • It felt very Stray Kids to me. The editing is so bonkers and off the wall, it almost feels like a parody of itself. I really love when the production is taken to the most logical extreme possible, because it’s a ton of fun to watch.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Yea didn’t think this one would be a Bias List fave 😉 It occurred to me that La Di Da is Everglow’s only title track in major key, which is interesting given minor key is a less preferred sound on this blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NO, La Di Da is not in major key AT ALL, and there is no evidence this blog prefers major over minor. We don’t find much major in kpop from the get go. I think you just likes simple trap.


      • My mistake. The chorus sounded like major to me, but I’m not a musician.

        Just a little tease as Nick had said in comments on a previous post (I think about Kang Daniel Paranoia?) that he’s not a big fan of minor key.

        I have nothing against good trap 🙂


      • Wow, rude. (@the dude who assumed you just like simple trap, not you.)

        Nonetheless, I came here to say the same thing: La Di Da is not strictly major. The verses/prechoruses are minor, and the chorus sounds briefly “majory” sounding intro before going back to minor. Then again, all of Everglow’s title tracks have been minor so far.

        I’m also not sure Nick “prefers minor keys” – If you look at his top 10 kpop songs of all time, The Chaser, Rising Sun, Catch Me, Back, Paradise are all mostly minor vs. Crooked, Sherlock, Into the New World, Monster all being mostly major. Then there’s History which sounds like an edge case – websites call it major but it sounds more minor to my ears. That’s not proof of anything (his top 10 could be half and half and his 10-90 be all major, for example,) but I think it’s fair to say if his absolute favorite songs are mixed modes, that he doesn’t strongly favor one over the other. (Not that it’d matter if he did! This is TheBiasList, not “the impossible objective assessment of songs list.”)

        (Side note: most boy group songs use pentatonic scales, and those very easily sound major or minor just depending on what note you start on.)

        Liked by 2 people

  16. i honestly enjoyed this song from the dramatic beats to the way they delivered the verses and the melody is amazing, but what sold it all for me was the level of performance these girls showcased, you can tell they put a lot of effort into it. So saying this song is bad is just being harsh even if you don’t like the overall edm heaviness there’s still aspects that are great that you can’t deny.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The song isn’t terrible just doesn’t sound unique to them, sound like a boy group song or something off one of Kindgom’s performances . Which isn’t like the worst thing in the world but just miss them on this song, not thinking Everglow when i hear this. Also, La Di Da is also too hard to follow up lol for me anyway. That song was it last year.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I usually share the tastes of people on this blog, so I’m surprised to find that I like this! It’s fun. Probably my 2nd favorite title track by them so far. Honestly, I don’t see why people would consider this way worse than something like “Wonderland.” Very similar structure and sound overall. Yeah, there’s no “singing” hook, but there’s definitely a hook in the synth that shows up in the chorus. The production is pretty noisy, but I find it to be a nice kind of grating that holds the whole thing up.

    If I had to rank how I prefer the big girl group songs this I’ve heard year, it’d probably be something like:

    Ring Ring >>> Love So Sweet >> Odd Eye >>>>> Ponzona > *First* >> After School > Dun Dun Dance >> Hwaa >>>> Red Sun >> Next Level >>> Mafia >>>>>>>>> I’m Real.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Reaaaallllyyyyy between Ponzona and After School, that’s so interesting! I kind of adore Ponzona in this weird dethatched way, but definitely less that After School.

      I would never think to compare this song to Wonderland, but actually it’s a great example to contrast with First! I do think there are some minor differences that really make a difference in the quality of the song. First struggles with finding an appropriate vocal-instrumental balance, and it feels like the song is “on” all the time with no rest. Wonderland, on the other hand, has instrumentals that really add to and highlight the vocals, and several rests in the track to give a respite from the heavy bass and loud percussion.

      I also noticed that while First is a pure blast of computerized sounds, Wonderland features brass and woodwinds to provide sound. And THAT is what makes the most difference. No matter the volume, “real” instruments will almost always sound less overpowering and dominatingly constant.

      I think my real frustration with this song is the missed potential. Some really cool elements where there: the strings (I’m a hoe for strings okay), the hook (okay I like the hook a lot don’t come at me), and the harmonization thing that they did at the bridge. This could’ve been a really cool song. Playing with crescendos, maybe some pizzicato style-sounding-stuff, really maximizing the effect of the harmonies. Talking about it is getting me sad lol….

      Long story short, I I’m fine with noisy, but it has to be tasteful noisy, and First is sadly not that.


      • After School has an absolutely charming chorus, and I think its highs are higher than Ponzona’s. Ponzona’s style outshines its songwriting, though neither is bad in my opinion. But I do think Ponzona is more consistent overall (After School’s non-chorus parts don’t really do anything,) so they fall in a similar range of quality for me.

        I also think Wonderland is quite a bit better than First (if I was using Nick’s ratings I might give First a 7.5 and Wonderland a 9,) but considering this is basically a knockoff Wonderland I wanted to provide some alternate perspective to why I like it and don’t find it as tremendously disappointing as others do (though my 7s are like “average, enjoyable song” rather than “meh.”)


  19. I loveeeee the MV. It is too much boy group but i think it is enjoyable enough and the girls performance is really good. This tops Mafia because at least the song is nice. But this isn’t as addictive as Next level.


  20. I absolutely adore the instrumentals in the chorus after “You know that I come first,” because they are so blasting and satisfying. I feel like that section had a lot of potential that rest of the song was just unable to capitalize on.

    I do enjoy powerful songs like this, especially in girl groups, but this song was not tasteful bombast, it was just loud bombast.


  21. I have just heard this song and….. I actually don’t mind it! Of course, it is not my favorite title track Everglow has released thus far (LA DI DA *chef’s kiss*) but I do like what they were trying to in terms of concept and style. I do agree with Nick that it does not have catchy hook which is fine??? BUT when you have a bombastic song like First you do want something catchy that people can shout to, idk that’s just what I think. Also, while listening to this song my mind automatically thought that this song would fit ATEEZ perfectly especially with their release of “I’m the One (Fireworks)” earlier this year (mainly due to the choreo & singing/rapping), and it’s nice to see other people in the comments thought so as well lol. Overall, I agree with Nicks rating and it’s an alright song that I think I’ll enjoy over time but it won’t become a standout song of 2021 for me.


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