Song Review: AKMU – NAKKA (ft. IU)

AKMU - NAKKA (ft. IU)AKMU’s newest release is a collaboration album, with each of its tracks featuring a guest artist. None of these guests feel too surprising or left-field, but their presence has inspired the duo to experiment with their sound. NAKKA (낙하) brings together AKMU and IU – a recipe for surefire chart success. But, the track also embraces unexpected electronic influence, resulting in a style we’ve never heard from either artist.

The last time an AKMU title track felt so synth-driven, the siblings were waxing poetic about youth in 2017’s Dinosaur. NAKKA is quite different, taking more inspiration from K-pop’s current synthwave trend. It’s still quirky in execution, yet feels like the duo’s answer to 2021’s crop of groovy idol releases. The rhythmic chorus isn’t too dissimilar from the beat drop hooks we hear so often. It’s buttressed by the trio’s idiosyncratic voices, but the menacing beat feels familiar.

AKMU play with the instrumental, giving NAKKA a sense of spontaneity that enhances its bite. There are some great hooks in here, though I’m not sure they come together in a way that feels wholly satisfying. I keep waiting for NAKKA to explode, but the song seems intent on pulling back at every turn. Surprisingly, IU is underutilized. The production threatens to overpower her tone, making this feel like a case of ‘big-name guest tacked on at the last moment.’ Even so, NAKKA’s sinuous rhythm has its charms, particularly when its icy synth line takes over and AKMU go all Blade Runner on us.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25

10 thoughts on “Song Review: AKMU – NAKKA (ft. IU)

  1. My kids love “Dinonsaur”.
    This one is pleasant.

    The main problem is that the song is performed entirely from keyboards, including the percussion and the bass. The writing has good enough bones, but it gets constrained by everything being so snap-to and lined up and composed by laptop. The song has lost its soul, if it ever had one. Its all clever by halves. If instead brother Chanhyuk had taken those lines and gotten a real percussionist and a real bassist to play it and such, it would have more humanity and heart to it. As is, it sounds so canned.

    10bpm faster would also be nice. It sounds like a 45rpm single played at 33rpm. Metaphorically speaking because that would be 1.33x and I clicked the 1.25x setting in youtube and it is better but a tad too fast, so less than that.

    (Also note the wood xylo plinky plunky synth setting in the verses. My favorite setting or all time … … )

    One other note. I listened to Yunho’s “Eeny Meeny Miny Mo” from January 2021 a whole lot earlier this year. The main chorus hook sounds so close to the third line of the chorus in this song that I have been singing eeny meeny miny mo here too. I think I will go listen to the Yunho some more. He just owns these performances, though I can’t find a live vocal version (I am sure one exists somewhere).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Honestly, I think 10 more BPM is too fast. I do think the original is a bit too slow, but just a few more beats per minute would work. Like 4-5 more.

      …I’m listening to it now, and the subtle added tempo gives it a bit more kick than the original. Now that you pointed out the slow tempo, it’s all I can focus now haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Honestly, I think 10 more BPM is too fast. I do think the original is a bit too slow, but just a few more beats per minute would work. Like 4-5 more.

    …I’m listening to it now, and the subtle added tempo gives it a bit more kick than the original.


  3. It’s a quirky synthwave-y song. I’m pretty much gonna like it. The interplay of the vocals with the synths in the chorus so much. I don’t mind the lack of a “stand-out” as per usual, so the song is genuinely great to my ears.

    I do agree that the song can feel a little artificial. That doesn’t bother me at all but it’s there. As I said above, the tempo is just a bit slow and speeding it up a tad does give it a bit more energy and kick (I checked with Audacity and it sounds pretty great). Aside from that, I’ll probably listen to this a couple of time.

    July is definitely a dry month, but there might be some late stragglers who’ll get in. After all, DC has their summer song they’re releasing.


  4. Oooh, I feel kinda conflicted about this one- on one hand, I like the song itself, and of course their vocals sound great as always. But I agree with the above comments that there’s something about the production I don’t care for- it just sounds too cold/hollow for me somehow. I’m sure it will grow on me, but after the first two listens I like their release from last week way more.

    But of course I gotta give props to AKMU for always giving us something different each time. That’s what I really like about them, but that obviously means I can’t possibly resonate with ALL of their musical choices every single time.

    I am loving the whole darker vibe they are going for with this comeback though and I’m really excited to listen to the rest of the album!


  5. this is the kind of song that if you’re half paying attention you might think it’s incredible. And it’s really good. it just, as you said in your review, lacks full cohesion or punch to send it all the way.
    There are some awesome synth sounds and vocal performances in this track tho!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I really respect how AKMU sometimes lets the production do the talking even though both of them are great singers. (This comment applies to Hey Kid, Close Your Eyes and Nakka.)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I really like how massive the production sounds. The dark synth line in the verses sounds amazing. I personally think Everest is the best song in the album though. It just sounds so cathartic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Everest sounds like the best on the album. It sounds to me like a coffee shop version of a big arena song by like a Coldplay-style act. It uses that Oooohh on the initial lines of the chorus for the short hand for let’s all sing along to this momentous part here (a la Viva La Vida), which makes it sound Grand, even if the rest of the vibe is rather subdued.

      Liked by 1 person

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