Okay, let’s get this straight before we move on. Break Ice (얼음깨) is a charity release, with proceeds benefiting pandemic relief. For that reason alone, you should stream the song, watch the ads and do what you can. Or, simply donate to the cause yourself. With that said, I’m here to write about what I think of the music itself. Taking its good intentions out of the picture, how does the song stack up?
Break Ice pairs ITZY with comedienne Kim Shinyoung, operating under her moniker “Second Aunt Kim DaVi.” Knowing this, I expected the track to have a more comedic concept that fully embraced novelty. But even though Shinyoung is far from what most would consider an idol, her knowing, trot-influenced vocals fit surprisingly well alongside ITZY.
Instead, Break Ice plays as the latest in a long string of midtempo percussive pop tracks. This one’s got more summery bounce than most, but doesn’t take any chances to distinguish itself from the pack. I like the injection of guitar (or ukulele?), but other than that the instrumental feels overly busy.
ITZY’s vocals are often layered to create the brash sound that’s become synonymous with K-pop’s “girl crush” movement. This approach, coupled with the limited range of Break Ice’s instrumental, makes the track feel a bit cluttered and claustrophobic. A knockout melodic break may have helped. Instead, we settle for the first half of Break Ice’s chorus, which clears space for a contrasting volley of low and high-pitched refrains. Nothing is the least bit offensive about this amiable head-nodder, but none of hooks really sink their teeth in either. Check out STAYC’s ASAP for a similar-sounding song with much more bite.