Song Review: Yang Yoseob (Highlight) – Brain

Yang Yoseob - BrainThere are some K-pop voices that instantly take me back to a different generation. Yang Yoseob’s tone was vital to the early 2010’s, gifting Beast’s music with a unique quality. Its clarity and lightness are immensely calming, capable of delivering powerful dance tracks as well as more typical ballads. In short, I could listen to him sing anything. However, that love is put to the test when it comes to new single Brain.

To be honest, if I didn’t run a K-pop review blog, I’d probably not approach this song at all. I find Brain hopelessly dull, despite my fondness for Yoseob’s performance. Like much of his solo work, the song finds a juncture between alternative R&B and coffeeshop, but fails to do anything interesting with those genres. Muted guitar and gentle percussion make for snoozy bedfellows, rarely rising above a hushed whisper. The track is just sprightly enough to dance to, but it’s a subdued sway rather than a head-to-toe workout. That’s fine. Not every song has to pull you to the dancefloor to be successful.

The biggest problem I have with Brain is that its melody isn’t engaging. Obviously, Yoseob is singing all the way through. Yet, the songwriting feels inert. Nothing’s really happening. The chorus opts for a slinky bit of drama, but never builds toward one knockout moment. A few days ago, I wrote a critical review of NCT 127’s Sticker. I still think that song is a mess. But, I’d always opt for an obnoxious mess over something that puts me to sleep. Pick your poison, I guess…

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 6
 RATING 6.75

13 thoughts on “Song Review: Yang Yoseob (Highlight) – Brain

  1. The song almost feels structureless cos there’s no real ups and downs. I wish that soloists didn’t go for the mid tempo whisper tracks every time. It’s a shame since Highlight/Beast have had some fantastic songs that are mid tempo yet still engaging af (Fiction)


  2. There is a melody, and it is pleasant and has more range than most. The performance has a confidence. The guitar is nice too with a bit of swing.

    I don’t think its a bad song per se, but it is the nth solo male song released just this year from former vocal lines of older groups. I have honestly lost track. I wish all these guys the best of luck, but even a regular kpop consumer like myself can’t distinguish this one from that one from that other one.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The MV tricked me into thinking this song was more interesting than it actually is – when I gave it (and the album) a listen on the good headphones I quickly zoned out. Still, bonus points for the MV – I got into kpop partly because of the awesome MVs but it feels like most of them the last few months have been fairly bland. I’d wonder if COVID-related budget issues are partially to blame, but then I remember that PINK FANTASY and ZB put together a great video for “Poison” even on what was clearly a tiny budget.


    • Good concept and design wins over budget most of the time. Unless the budget is truly tiny, then the production is usually also truly crappy. Kpop squanders budget in so many ways, but chief among them are too many costume changes and too many fancy sets.

      I don’t know why it comes to mind right now, but in the movie Hedwig and the Angry Inch, they used the same restaurant for all the band scenes just filming thisaway or thataway with small swaps in the props and set decor.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, for sure. One of my favorite videos from the last few months was ONEWE’s “Rain to Be” (which was also ZBs because yeah, they know what they’re doing), and while I don’t know how much it costs to flood a swimming pool full of used/broken band equipment and cute boys, I’m guessing it’s not all that much, especially if you don’t have to pay for the boys.


        • Yes, good example. They spent the right amount of money on that video. Just enough, not too much. The stans are still happy (or should be).

          Liked by 1 person

          • While we’re talking about simple-but-effective mvs, I’d draw your attention to the new Kis-My-Ft2 review at the top of the blog. Surprisingly simple video but VERY memorable.


            • Oh wow, yeah, that is creepy. Less effective than it might be for me personally, because I was immediately reminded of the disembodied arms effect that got used to death in KINGDOM, but definitely a striking use of a small budget.


  4. I’d actually disagree quite a bit here. Sure, the song ain’t fully my jam either, but it does nothing wrong, and even does a few things really good. For example, the bass creates a bit of grit for contrast, and the little orchestral touchings add a sense of uniqueness.

    Nonetheless, great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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