Sometimes, being a K-pop fan requires selective memory. This wasn’t the case during earlier generations, when it was common for groups to find their own distinct sound and (mostly) stick with it for long stretches of title tracks. These days, many groups swerve from one style or concept to another, hoping to cast their net wide rather than focus narrowly on an already-passionate fan base. This leads to lopsided singles runs like Everglow’s. You’ve got the amazing, synth-driven La Di Da followed by the rugged beat-drop banger First. The two songs couldn’t be more different.
This is where selective memory comes in. In my alternate dimension, Promise arrived on the heels of La Di Da, crafting a double punch of synthy goodness. In reality, the song isn’t even a title track. It’s a theme song for UNICEF’s Promise Campaign. Given that backdrop, I would have expected a sentimental ballad. Instead, Promise bursts forth with an upbeat, optimistic sound.
Like so many great pop songs, Promise knows the power of its chorus and opens with that hearty refrain. From here, the track segues into a sprightly verse, powered by bright synths and dynamic percussion. It has an old-fashioned appeal, but in the best way. The vocal arrangement is very enjoyable, often layering the girls’ voices to create a robust sound that gives Promise plenty of heft. Momentum collapses a bit during the second verse, but this interlude is supported by a burst of creative synth. At times, the final product tips into treacly territory, but I happen to have a high tolerance for musical cheese!