Song Review: INI – Rocketeer

INI - RocketeerI was surprised how invested I became with the second season of Japan’s Produce 101. I decided to watch it on a whim, and found myself rooting for the contestants in a way I hadn’t since Korea’s second go-around back in 2017. I’m delighted with the final line-up, particularly since it includes a few killer vocalists. With this in mind, it’s hard not to be disappointed by the chant-driven nature of debut single Rocketeer. As part of a double A-side, it will be paired with the (presumably) more vocal-focused Brighter, but JO1’s epic Born To Be Wild proved how powerful these big dance tracks can be when bolstered by thrilling vocal lines.

True to its name, Rocketeer opens with a blast. The extended intro is dynamic and exciting, and I wish its inventive beat had laced more of the actual song. Instead, we lurch into an NCT-like rap verse. I enjoy the undulating electronics here, but the transition loses momentum just as we should be soaring. Melodic vocals drive the so-so pre-chorus, but this proves to be a brief oasis before Rocketeer plunges into its chanted chorus. This is a catchy hook. There’s no doubt about that. However, it feels like an awful use of the group’s talent. The structure and delivery render them faceless — a self-sabotaging move for a newly-debuted act.

After a forgettable second verse, Rocketeer swerves into a series of dance breaks. These are admittedly cool, and cement the track as a choreography showcase rather than an actual song. INI’s vocalists are finally given room to flex during the atmospheric bridge. I just wish it was in service to a stronger melody. This group has so much potential, and I’m still looking forward to following them closely in the hope they’ll find their own Born To Be Wild. For now, it’s frustrating to watch their natural charm be swallowed up by this tired NCT-chasing style.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7

8 thoughts on “Song Review: INI – Rocketeer

  1. I found INI’s debut to be somewhat disappointing. I expected a groovier style considering JO1. Also, have you listened to AKB48 and the Sakamichi Group’s newest singles? I’m curious what you think of them.


    • I’d love to see reviews of these if possible too omg; AKB48’s Nemo Hamo Rumor was surprisingly funky, Hinatazaka46’s Tteka was a fun evolution of their sound with the Yoasobi-tinged pianowork+electronics, and Sakurazaka46’s Nagaredama was Cowboy Bebop as done by idols, the energy was crazy. Their second release from the album, Dead End, was even more exciting, and possibly better than the main promotional track. The Nogi single was kind of disappointing however. I’d rank them Dead End>Nemo Hamo Rumor>Nagaredama>Tteka>Kimi ni Shikarareta


      • Thanks for drawing my attention back to these groups. I have a habit of falling away from their new releases because I find the whole thing a bit overwhelming. Then, I end up playing catch-up after the fact.

        I’d heard Sakurazaka46’s new single and it didn’t really capture me, but Dead End is very good! I might have to write about that one before the month is over. At the very least, it’s going on my playlist.


      • NGL, I thought Nagaredama was a little disappointing at first listen (radio) but hearing it clearly in the music video really made me appreciate the song! I still like AKB’s newest release the most.


  2. So… Old Man Lee Soo subcontracted NCT Japan to Lapone…?

    It’s strange to realize that I didn’t really have any expectations for this debut, even though I followed the show assiduously (woke up very early for the live broadcast every Friday, actually 🤫). I just hope they embrace meatier, JO1 style hooks later on.

    Oh, and sadly I *do* understand the lyrics to this one.


    • I only made it halfway through season one, so I’m probably not the best person to ask. I think it just depends on if you find people to root for or not. I thought season two was particularly entertaining and had some personalities I really enjoyed.


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