Review

Song Review: Kim Woojin – Still Dream

Kim Woojin - Still DreamAfter Kim Woojin’s abrupt departure from Stray Kids in late 2019, the rumor mill went into action and he became the number one enemy of many an ardent fan. Honestly, I couldn’t care less about the tabloid side of K-pop. If the guy did something wrong (as alleged on twitter), I hope justice will be served. But, it’s so hard to get to the truth these days, with overzealous tweeters jumping to conclusions. Either way, it’s probably not a great idea for Woojin’s team to use this controversy to fuel his solo career.

Whatever the case, I’m here to focus on the music. After a year and a half of hiatus, Woojin is ready to debut as a soloist. Still Dream is billed as a “pre-debut,” but the song gives us an idea of what to expect from his eventual album. And based upon his work with Stray Kids, the song is nothing like I would have anticipated.

From music to video to performance, Woojin makes a convincing move into Taemin territory. Still Dream isn’t original or groundbreaking in any way, but its anthemic sound and pleasant melody captured my attention. Truth be told, I’ve never been a huge fan of Woojin’s vocals. It always felt like they were at odds with Stray Kids’ overall style. But, he sounds reinvigorated here, free to stretch his voice in more dramatic ways. Egged on by resounding percussion and majestic synths, he gives a hearty performance that matches the intensity of the arrangement. Had this track been less generic in sound and structure, we could be talking about a major highlight. As it stands, Still Dream leaves me curious for more.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8

31 thoughts on “Song Review: Kim Woojin – Still Dream

  1. this is one of the better Ryan Jhun songs this year.
    I like the rock elements and Woojin’s vocal performance here.
    I would love it if things took off even more majestically but it’s not a bad pre-debut.

    His allegations are definitely disappointing and I don’t like this being framed as some sort of cringe redemption/misunderstood story. It does dilute how much I enjoy this song, to be honest.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. On the tabloid side, the accusations were proven false, from SA to Bullying, all are false. So no worries and lots of evidence appearing proving Woojin’s innocence. The story is a huge maze from one twist to another.

    On the musical aspect, I really love the incorporation of rock inside of it. The music sounds very uplifting and inspiring. It doesn’t have a loud or weird instruments and goes to a calmer structure.
    Kudos to his perseverance, resilience and strength, he managed to deliver us a really good pre-debut single.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course it’s a relief that they’re false, but most of us who have been following the case have known that for a while now. The ongoing issue is his reaction to the allegations and in my opinion, his use of them for promo is indefensible. It is a really weird move and contrary to a display of resilience, I think the incorporation of the allegations into his concept implies that he really was damaged by them in a big way, which he does not seem to have moved on from, nor does he intend to do so…

      Liked by 7 people

      • Seconding this, for the most part! I really liked Woojin for a long time and I’m beyond happy that the rumors were more than likely false, but the way he handled it was just so odd from the very beginning. My knowledge of most controversies starts and ends with whatever Soompi articles are written about them, but even I was put off by how strangely he went about clearing his name and returning to the industry. Couple it with that weird “documentary” he released last week and I think I’m forever turned away from this guy, unfortunately. Feels weird to see or hear him anymore.

        Liked by 4 people

      • He has never used the sa allegations as a “promo” for his music. It was all a teaser for his documentary, which I think he’s entitled to, seeing as he’s the victim in this situation.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Right, I realized I was incorrect and clarified that in a separate comment.

          As I stated elsewhere, I do think that knowing it was promo for the documentary mitigates my reaction somewhat, but I still think that choosing to promote it this way— just ahead of his single’s release— is a really poor choice. They also made it *look* like a music teaser, which is perhaps what led to this misunderstanding in the first place. It’s more on his company than him, maybe. He needs some new management. Right now it kind of feels like he’s a young guy with a lot of money and absolutely no idea what he’s doing with it all.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, thank you so much for including that news link Nick. I was like “wait, what?” and it actually is even worse than you made it sound. I’m not even going to give him the clicks after reading that, honestly. Incorporating sexual assault allegations into half-baked single promo is frankly a baffling career decision.

    And for what it’s worth, I felt pretty conflicted about Woojin as a new Stay, because it does seem to me that the allegations turned out to be false (although it’s difficult to tell with paucity of translations), and Stays (internationally at least) have added fuel to the fire by creating this whole narrative about how actually he was bullying all the other members of the group etc, which I think is ridiculous. So I was neutral on him basically. But this is the nail in the coffin for me. It does not take the gravity of these accusations seriously, at all. Like, it’d make sense if he’d used some generic hate tweets, “go kill yourself” etc– just to comment on social media hate– artists like Sunmi & IU have done that before. I actually think maybe WJ/his company thinks that these accusations are on par with those hate comments. Just that they are mindless hate, and that he doesn’t have any duty to his fans as a public figure to take the issue of sexual assault seriously.

    Just gross. By the way, there was that recent study that said younger men in Korea are overwhelmingly antifeminist. I wonder if he’s banking on their support, even? I know that if a male artist over here did this, he’d be a hit with the MRAs.

    (Sorry to detract from the music but, you know… I just can’t, this time.)

    Liked by 15 people

      • Of course!

        Since making these comments I will add that I did a little of my own research and it appears the teaser with the accuser’s tweet was a promo image for a documentary that Woojin’s company released about the situation about a week before the MV dropped, rather than a promo for the MV itself, which does mitigate this situation a bit in my opinion. I mean it’s not like he was dancing in front of the tweets or anything, which I feel was kind of implied by the article.

        But it’s still a weird choice to release that video so close to his MV release and it does leave an odd taste in your mouth and feel like they are milking the controversy somehow.

        Liked by 7 people

        • Also like….. a documentary on such a serious subject can just be dropped without promo beforehand IMO it’s weird to promote it in the same way you’d promote a single. Like with the “D-1,” “D-2” imagery, a lot of people believed it was going to be a single drop. A lot of the company’s handling of the situation has felt amateurish if I’m honest, maybe that’s the real problem here. They keep doing things that don’t help his image.

          Liked by 7 people

          • Literally! Like when I first saw this doc thing going around my first thought was, why aren’t you concentrating on your music? Idk maybe he/the company thought it was a way to drum up exposure before a release, but there is such a thing as the wrong type of exposure. I know he has his stans that have and will eat this shit up and think it was such a power move etcetc, but it has put me and my friends off even checking out his music and I suspect we aren’t the only ones.

            Liked by 5 people

          • i joked about him needing a new PR manager in my comment below, but I’m honestly wondering how many professionals are actually involved in his company.

            Liked by 3 people

            • I mean there were rumors last year about his company being literally just himself lol… since they had clearly just gotten started around the time when the controversy took off, i.e. their socials were all brand new. I think he signed with them some time beforehand but he was their first artist so when the controversy broke, they rushed to set up social media and stuff to clear his name… and um, we can see how well that worked out.

              Now, he obviously has other people on staff, but just based on the way they’ve handled the situation and the way they all seem to be buddy-buddy with him (“good thing my boss likes whiskey”) and support him in a way that most companies demonstrably would not, I get the sense that maybe the CEO is like, maybe a friend of Woojin’s dad who manages a Hyundai dealership and was like “yeah sure kid i don’t know much about this kpop stuff but I can do you a favor” ……..ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ

              Liked by 1 person

        • I misunderstood that as well, but yeah, it’s still a really questionable decision. It doesn’t seem like milking the controversy so much as trying to clear his name/get control of the narrative, which doesn’t make it a better idea.

          Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with this. To me it’s not about the debunked allegations, but rather the whole handling of it that leaves me not wanting to support him. Even way back when the allegations first came out, there was a statement about it by himself/the company which pretty much ended with “new music coming out soon btw”. That really felt weird to me at the time. It was neither the time nor the place. You just got accused of sexual assault ffs. So I decided to ignore him until a few days ago then this whole “documentary” thing was all over my TL. It’s fucking gross to use allegations of this nature in some kind of “reclamation”, even if they were false. As you said, Sunmi and IU used hate tweets as a way to make a message against hate comments. What Woojin is doing doesn’t come off as a critique of hate posts, rather being petty and not taking what he was accused of seriously at all. It comes off as extremely mocking to me too. He would have been better off not saying or alluding to anything at all and let the music do the talking. If he had handled this professionally from the every beginning I could have come around to supporting his solo stuff. But he didn’t and now I can’t. It just doesn’t feel right.

      Liked by 5 people

    • I have very similar opinions on Woojin’s situation as a new Stay as well, so thank you for writing them out!

      I was also neutral on him initially, and definitely didn’t buy into the bully narrative, though I did sense a disconnect from him and the rest of SKZ…but any discussion of that may just lead into rumour territory, so I’ll stay away from that. But yes, the way him and his company have handled this situation has soured my opinion on him entirely. When the accusation initially came out, his reaction was so weird and dismissive – if i remember correctly, he just tweeted something like “those allegations are false…anyways I’m debuting solo soon with this company, support me!”. And now with the tweets in the promo pics for the documentary, and the whole “redemption” narrative…it’s so so gross and really makes me feel sick how him and his company are using the SA allegations as a promotion tactic. Your idea about potentially even banking on support from the anti-feminists…wow, I could see that maybe.

      I’m glad the allegations turned out to be false (I think), but this is too much for me.

      Liked by 4 people

      • I mean on the subject of group discord I’m sure there was some, solely based on Chan’s little messy vlive where he was like “SOME PEOPLE MADE SOME MISTAKES AND DIDNT TAKE RESPONSIBILITY STAYS WILL KNOW WHAT IM TALKING ABOUT” (which I think was such a dumb thing to say btw but like in a way that endears me to him further lol). Stays are extremely unwell though so you can’t say a damn thing about Woojin one way or the other without getting screamed at.

        Anyways regarding his statement, another crazy thing is that 10x made a point of saying Woojin’s original statement was mistranslated, and in the “documentary” they published their own official translation, but I just looked at the two side by side and they’re more or less the same thing, so…. 😭😭😭

        Liked by 2 people

        • Chan’s statement is basically what I was referring too haha – it really was kind of dumb to say but well, yeah, it was endearing 😂

          ” I just looked at the two side by side and they’re more or less the same thing, so…”
          well then :/

          Liked by 1 person

    • Yes based on recent surveys men in their 20s and 30s have been more against the antifeminist movement to around 50-55% of the demographic. I wouldn’t really call this “overwhelming” but in comparison to other prominent first-world countries, it certainly raises eyebrows.

      If Woojin is banking his activities on their support, then I’m not impressed. Things are turning ugly here in Korea. On one side you got the feminist movement that is twisted to the point where it’s just about hating men. Radical feminist groups certainly antagonized a lot of the men. Then on the other side, because of those groups, you see men generalize the whole feminist movement as being toxic and misandristic. And finally, in the middle, we have genuine feminism.

      The world is laughing at us right now and I am thoroughly ashamed. I hope we reach a genuine compromise without misunderstandings. I do appreciate you giving us your take on the matter.

      I hope politics doesn’t make its way into this blog. SNS is bad enough as it is. It’s one of those few websites where I can go without thinking I have to deal with hot-headed people.

      Liked by 4 people

    • But….he didn’t use the sexual assault as his promo for this song?
      The teaser was actually for his documentary…

      Like

  4. I kind of like this one, however I don’t think I’ll listen to it a lot. It seems kind of forgettable to me. I’d probaly give it a 7ish.

    Like

  5. Oof, someone really needs a new PR person. I actually like the song and am disappointed that it’s not available on Apple Music – I guess it’ll show up whenever the official debut drops? It’s definitely a departure from his prior work, but it has seemed pretty clear to me that he didn’t fit well with SKZ’s hip hop focused sound and maybe he just didn’t want to be stuck singing ad libs for the rest of his life. The MV is lovely too – I didn’t remember him being an especially strong dancer but the video has a lovely, contemporary feel too it that we don’t see in kpop much these days.

    Liked by 4 people

    • At some point between the MV being released and when I was updating my playlists yesterday this popped up on Apple Music, and as I thought it might, it sounds really good on my nice headphones. Given the dearth of releases in July this might end up on my personal top three.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. To be honest, everyone is talking about his initial Twitter reaction to the SA case, the usage of his accuser’s tweet, and the 10X company’s bad PR team. But can we just take a minute to actually talk about how the ‘documentary’ was made?! It takes the SA thing as a joke. Even if it is fake, you don’t joke about it. There are some really good threads in this comments section on this already, so I don’t need to go too much into that.

    Also, every word Soule said above is so true.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I really wasn’t aware, since I just read a basic summary of what’s in the video rather than subjecting myself to the whole half hour (and I’m sure that’s true for most people in that thread). And I’m still not going to watch it lol, but I googled around and people are generally saying that it’s quite unserious and attempts to be “witty” and so on. Which……. sucks.

      One of his nutjob stans made the argument that he’s “showing how ridiculous the accusations were by being over the top in response” or whatever. To me it doesn’t show anything but immaturity. I’m not saying it’s easy, but there are celebrities who have responded to even more bizarre accusations with grace and compassion. (I’m primarily thinking of Mitski here.) In comparison, Woojin feels like a big kid surrounded by a bunch of yes men who will just let him do whatever he wants.

      You know, skz have a song called “grow up,” which he sang on. He should give it another listen sometime, it’s a good one…..

      Like

      • I know I’m in the minority here, but I think as a victim of false accusations WJ is entitled to handle it how he likes. Man got death threats over it and it looks like he and his team are trying on purpose to make it look like they aren’t affected by the lies. My close friend went through something like this, and their reaction as an ordinary person was pretty much the same for a while. People didn’t believe them whatever they said so in the end they just acted like it was a big joke and waited for things to blow over. It was horrible.

        Like

        • I feel you, I’m not saying you’re wrong. Your friend’s reaction makes sense, but as you said, your friend is an “ordinary person.” The difference for me is that Woojin is a celebrity which means not only that he has a sense of responsibility to his fans but also that he has (supposedly) a whole PR team whose job is to help him deal with this stuff. So I agree with you that his reaction was very “ordinary guy,” I just don’t think that’s a good thing. I’m not saying he’s a psychopath or whatever, I think this is how a lot of people would probably react to such a thing, it’s just a really bad decision to go about it this way and I think his team is handling it really poorly and ultimately doing him a disservice. Like they didn’t really make any significant points in the video that hadn’t already been made, so just imagine if they hadn’t released it, we might actually be talking about his music.

          Liked by 2 people

  7. the song immediately reminded me of another song with the aye-e-i-e-i parts paired together with the beat, but it might just be a generic combination + I can’t remember what the other song was. I do like the surge in instruments around 2.05 though.

    I just hope that he gets a better pr team, bc at this point almost everyone is still talking about the scandal rather than his music?

    Liked by 1 person

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