Song Review: Monsta X – Gambler

Monsta X - Gambler

Over the past couple of years, Monsta X have settled into a nice little niche, releasing exactly the type of songs you’d expect of them. Of course, one person’s niche is another’s rut, and it’s been a while since I’ve been excited about a Monsta X title track. But with Gambler, the guys have taken more creative control and fused their hard-hitting sound with groovier trends. The result is quite potent.

Gambler could have easily felt generic if given the tired boy group production underlining most hype tracks. And you can feel that temptation popping up during the chorus, as distorted brass attempts to gain a foothold. Luckily, the song is much more interesting than that, and injects a thrilling dose of undulating, synthwave-inspired bass and blazing guitar. The group haven’t sounded this funky in years, and it’s a great match for them.

Immediately, I was struck by the members’ delivery. The first verse passes by with a vocal that’s almost detached – more slurred and distant than your usual polished K-pop performance. This contrasts nicely with the multiple pre-choruses that follow. The track zigs where you think it’ll zag, delivering several blasts of percussive force. This climaxes in a chorus that’s half beat drop, half silly chant. I’ll always prefer melodic hooks, but I’m surprised how well this spoken-word centerpiece works. I mean, it doesn’t even rhyme!

However, Gambler saves its true brilliance for its finale. After a sinuous dance break, the guys offer a harmonic build before crashing into a secondary chorus that amps the drama. The instrumental follows suit, bolstering its explosive arrangement with electric guitar as the guys cast off a few killer ad-libs. This is the opposite of minimalist, and I love every second of its overblown drama. What a pleasant surprise!

 Hooks 9
 Production 10
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 9.25

48 thoughts on “Song Review: Monsta X – Gambler

  1. So this is really the sound of 2021. This rubbery bass + kpop does what it calls funk + brief moments of electric guitar + posturing noise festival. Fat fake horns. For this type it is well done, but it is the nth I have heard just like it this year so far, and it is only June.

    Sweet baby hey zeus on a taco, did he really sing “ I am hard as f”?! 2:03. According to the lyric video it is supposed to be “hot as F” as in Farenheit … I don’t hear it that way. Dirty mom.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. The chorus is not my thing but the last one is so good with the added vocals and the guitar. Kihyun’s parts are fantastic, the rap parts a bit eh, hot as f made me laugh a bit lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Whoa, that’s quite a high rating. I honestly didn’t expect it. To be honest, I enjoyed it quite well when I was listening to it but felt like it was forgettable later on. It might grow on me, I guess?

    But whatever it is, this style is here to stay this year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, was surprised at the rating too! I think it’s those unique elements (the harmonising, guitar, the way the song doesn’t feel predictable?) that really elevate this.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Okay so looking at the comments I may be in the minority but I am so here for it. This is MonstaX at their finest and damn these guys age like fine wine-they’ve mastered this genre of noisy, almost campy posturing but they do it with so much confidence I believe them wholeheartedly. The last half of the song is definitely the better half, I mean that final prechorus/chorus hits different. The final 50 seconds completely elevate the song and it’s like 80% Kihyun popping off. This is who every rookie boy group think they are.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Honestly it’s not my cup of tea , Fantasia was so-so for me , but Love Killa and Gambler , I am just confused with the sound they are going with, kinda messy lyrics and they had this distinct line but recently all the songs are bit generic? MAYBE its not yet grown on me , but I don’t like it for now.


  6. I don’t wanna jinx it…but why….why…why do I have a feeling that this June will be on par with the past bombastic months of 2013-16 summers? I DON’T WANNA JINX IT!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. The song was actually pretty good, But after Love Killa I just wanted something completely different. I didn’t want to have another type of Love Killa song, at this point It was quite disappointing. The only song I liked from them is Fantasia, Fantasia was the best era for me in my opinion and follow as well. But For some reason they have went even darker with Love killa and now Gambler. I really want to see some colours in their music videos, but everything is soo dark even love killa was the same. I really miss their old songs. I hope they don’t take on with this them forever, I hope that their next comeback will be more light and the opposite of love killa and Gambler. Although This comeback it was nice and all I really loved the singing part I wished that went on in the song. Overall it’s a good song, but I wish for a different direction.


  8. I don’t really know how I feel about this yet – they pull off the very minimalist style with confidence and class, but I love the moments where the song abandons this minimalism. The guitar, the harmonising, all awesome stuff. Unfortunately a large part of the song is based on that minimalism, which is not really my taste.

    As a former passionate Monsta X stan (..I feel like Ive said this about multiple groups now) I also want to make a mention of Kihyuns vocals. In my opinion he shines most when paired with dramatic production. Here too, he kills it – though nothing can beat his performance in Jealousy for me. I’m curious to see how this song grows on me (or not).

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I am flooooooored. maybe i’m in the minority – i was a huge fan of fantasia, but love killa left me cold so i made sure to keep my expectations in check. jooheon must have read how many tweets i wrote about kpop needing more guitar because WOW! i truly love everything about this – i can easily understand why the chorus might not be somebody’s taste, but for me, i think they absolutely crushed it. as was already said in the comment section, monsta x love to be cheesy but do it with so much earnest conviction and confidence that it instantly becomes fun. i love the styling, i think the MV is so entertaining, i love the choreo, i love that jooheon produced it, i LOVE that breakdown. the second half is phenomenal. fatal love is definitely the better album overall, but gambler is miles above love killa imo. if they had made gamber the tt of fatal love it would have been a literal flawless album to me. i’m glad you liked it nick, and as a longtime reader i feel like at this point i can parse exactly which choices in a song will end up getting a positive mention in your reviews! 😂

    Liked by 3 people

  10. This is a real hoot!
    Thinking about how Monsta X chose not to appear on Kingdom, this whole song, performance, and video feel like it could’ve really existed on that show easily. It’s much better musically than the Kingdom offerings, for my ears. This is something I prefer to take in as a whole rather than just listen to the song, but I do really like the song itself for the reasons listed in the review.

    I like that Starship has really been delivering some dark sexy vibes this year lol


  11. Okay, so that hook… definitely weird the first time I heard it. “Open my pack let me show you how I bang” I can’t tell where to place it on the English kpop scale. Probably “so craptastic it’s great” to “cringe but campy?” to “just cringe.” It fluctuates for me I suppose.

    Now. Aside from that one lyric?

    This is subdued but not in the way songs are usually “subdued.” I suppose the proper term is controlled. Every part is incredibly purposeful in its production. Everything just feels very right. All of the details are lovely to listen to. Honestly, unusual for the group really.

    It helps that the melodies are tight even from the beginning. It stays tight until the chorus really. The chorus is odd, and maybe could’ve been better but the best part is the final chorus and that one only really works with the flat-ish chorus. The bridge is fun too.

    Something I didn’t notice right away was the vocals. You’re right that the delivery of the lines are incredibly well-done. From the screaming to the first verse, it’s all very well done aside from possibly the rap.

    There’s a few flaws, but it ultimately it’s due to how subdued it is. While very impressive, it does mean some parts needed more oomph than there was.

    Other than that, nice track Monsta X. It was fun to listen at the very least, even the weird lyrics.

    If I had to compare this to a song, it’s Butter’s much cooler and hotter older brother, that actually robs, gambles and wears leather jackets and cooler suits instead of eating butter, wearing #bling, tracksuits and disco suits. My suit is fresh indeed. Even the MV’s just a cooler aesthetic than Butter.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. The opening line seems like an obvious Biggie reference but the delivery is so wildly different. I’m going to assume it’s a coincidence because it’s funnier to me if I imagine they just threw the kpop English lyric spaghettios at the wall and got an iconic hip hop line by chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This is my favorite Monsta X title in a long, long time. This is great for the same reason the recent Stray KIds hype tracks are great — even though there’s not much of a melodic hook chorus, they approach the refrain with energy and panache, unlike other groups with their halftime tempos and overly affected deliveries. This song is funky, emphasis on the FUN.


  14. I liked ‘Gambler’, though maybe not as much as ‘Love Killa’ which I loved the most out of all the post-Wonho title track releases. Even though I CAN’T stan Monsta X anymore, I must say that they have maintained great consistency with their albums. The B-sides in this album are (also) pretty good.


  15. I finally found out why I like the chorus as much as I do, the rhythm is kind of similar to Taemin’s Guess Who.


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