Song Review: Astro – Alive

Astro - AliveAstro are the latest group to release a song via the Universe app, meaning its full music video is only available to subscribers. So far, this barricade hasn’t been too much of a drawback because few of the Universe songs are any good. Most of the time, these tracks feel like cast-offs, pulled from the bargain bin of notable producers. Predictably, Alive follows suit.

For a song about feeling alive, this track comes across as lumbering and laborious. It never decides what it wants to be, opting for a familiar brew of samples and textures that seem to soundtrack so many boy group songs. Much of the energy rests on the percussion, which never settles into a groove worth enjoying. Rather than find one great beat and build off that, Alive shifts from fitful hi-hats to shuffling moombahton rhythms to pummeling EDM without any real vision. Any one of these styles may have formed an enjoyable song, but thrown together they result in an arrangement that feels unnatural and never builds momentum.

Astro do what they can with Alive, and their distinct tones poke through here and there. Unfortunately, the song gets mired in its generic trappings, much like CIX’s recent single Wave. Every time Alive seems to crest, it’s pulled back to earth with a rumble of uninspired electronic bombast. And without a melody memorable enough to hum after one or two listens, there’s just not much to grab my attention.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 6
 RATING 6.75

11 thoughts on “Song Review: Astro – Alive

  1. You know… I’ve actually enjoyed all the Universe tracks thus far. Some even rank within my top songs of the year (looking at you, Drink It) but this finally broke that streak. It just feels so bland and conventional. Not to mention it heralds a sound i wish kpop would leave behind already


  2. “Universe song” should be a category of its own by now. I can see us having at least one of these per group per year, so…

    But hey, they gave us Tesseract, which could justify that buggy cash grab of an app’s existence by itself. What’s that? Like 1 in… 6? 7? Certainly a damn sight better than my general “liking” rate for K-pop while following the releases here on the daily. 🤷


  3. you been checking up on girls planet 999 lately? i was watched some clips for the show and honestly, i’m not that sold. yes, the dancing is kinda good, but most of the vocals are unlistenable (many are off key and some sound like they’re gargling water). i’m even worried bora’s gonna be eliminated when she’s literally one of the best vocalists there 😦


    • I find the survival shows to be soul sucking at best. Because it is a slow day, I listened to this sampler, just to check it out. I took one for the team. ‘

      Basically, the problem is that on the original versions and kpop in general, the original versions live shows usually are not live. The girls sing along to a backing track, and there are autopitch correctors on, or post-production pitch correction, or both. Even shows like King of Masked Singer and Immortal Songs do a post-production polish on the vocals.

      For these 999 girls, it is live live, raw vocal, no backing vocal track and no post-production. So what you are hearing as off key is off key, but may be what our favorite debuted girl groups sound like if they were really live live.

      Then there is the singing along problem. Because the 999 girls grow up with processed autotuned vocals and sing along to those, they are altering their voices to sound processed out of their mouths that even though the original voice on the recording didn’t sound like that out of their mouths. (whoa, mind blown) They are adding that tinny whine, because that’s how they think they should sound.

      Here is an example of a post-production polish even for a group that can sing awesomely, Forestella “Champions”
      ‘ so well polished, I mean holy cow
      ‘ pretty raw off the auditorium audio board but the sound engineer has some clue
      ‘ audio basically taken right off the outdoor speakers set up by some guy
      If you blink, you have missed four key changes.


      • The 999 girls singing effect is like the Annie “Tomorrow” effect.
        Everyone sings Annie “Tomorrow” in a certain affected way to sound like the original Andrea McArdle because they think that is what Annie should sound like, instead of sounding like themselves. Yeah, you know, that big brassy wide open “I love-a-yah, tah mah roh!”. But few kids can sing like Andrea McArdle so it comes off as just wannabe broadway kid trying to pull it off.


    • I was a sucker and listened to more

      Yeah, all sorts of bum notes, all over. Most of these girls are just young and inexperienced – like they haven’t done a few tours through their theater club or the school chorus. They have probably never sung much acapella longer than an 8 second tik tok. Or sung somewhere other than their own bedroom, like standing up on a stage without any backing instrumental or vocal. They haven’t had experience yet how to use their voice, learn when to not pull up to hit the high notes but pop into head voice. They may not even know the difference. And then add the dance and it all goes off.

      Its no surprise that the do better on the boys songs (esp The Eve) and the lower placed girls songs (eg How you like that) because it is close to where their speaking voices are placed and they don’t have to do any technical transitions from low to midrange up to the high notes, they just stay in midrange.


  4. What is that sound? Its like a noisy blast contaminated with white noise with the distortion turned up.

    The melody is actually OK! But the instrumental is horrible. Imagine the melody over something more humane like an acoustic guitar. “I feel alive” and then some chord strumming, and the song would be OK. As is, it hurts my ears.


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