Song Review: Donghae – California Love (ft. Jeno)

Donghae - California Love (ft. Jeno)In the lead-up to their first (!) full Korean album, Super Junior’s Donghae and Eunhyuk will each be releasing solo tracks. It’s unclear whether these are part of (or separate from) the unit album, but either way it’s a nice treat for fans. Donghae’s California Love enlists the help of NCT’s Jeno. But despite this double whammy of star power, the track leaves little impression.

Honestly, this sort of laid-back pop song is hard to review. It sets its ambitions fairly low and accomplishes its job. Whenever I hear this sound, I’m immediately taken back to the mid-90’s – a golden age for slow jams and mid-tempos. If paired with killer hooks or compelling vocals, these songs can beguile with their vibe and groove. But without those vital ingredients, they tend to fade into the background. Such is the case with California Love.

Nothing about the track feels particularly unique or noteworthy. It’s fun to hear Jeno deliver a slightly more mature sounding rap, and Donghae’s tone is always engaging. It’s a pity that so much of it is slathered in vocal effects. This — coupled with a muted instrumental and repetitive phrasing – creates a languid experience that’s more drowsy than groovy. Nothing is “wrong” with the track, but in the vast realm of midtempo K-pop offerings, there are so many other songs I’d choose to listen to first. Hopefully, Donghae has stronger material up his sleeve for the big comeback album.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7


7 thoughts on “Song Review: Donghae – California Love (ft. Jeno)

  1. Normally, I agree when you say there is nothing wrong with the song, minus personal taste. However, here I disagree. There is something VERY wrong with this song. As someone who loves an R&B mid-tempo, the autotune here is absolutely terrible and ear-piercing. I would love to hear this live though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. actually Donghae released 2 songs. Please check out “Blue Moon” by Donghae ft Miyeon of Gidle. I love it so much. It’s better than California love. I wish it was the song that Donghae made a music video for 😭 Both of the songs were composed and written by Donghae. all of D&E songs are composed and written by Donghae. So many other self-written songs are coming. I noticed that Donghae doesn’t want to depend on SM. He wants to create his own music by himself. His self-written songs are always the highlighted ones in D&E albums. Title tracks are always the ones that are composed and written by him as well. That’s why I admire him as an idol. He’s really hard working and self-reliant. And he’s really passionate about writing music. He’s trying his best.💙 I love his earlier songs like Growing Pains, Still You, 1+1=Love , One More Chance, Don’t Wake Me Up, Only U, A Short Journey, Shirt, Alright, Rock Your Body … I feel like he’s trying the follow the trend that’s why he’s using auto-tune and is more into hip hop now


    • I prefer Blue Moon aswell, it suited his voice much better than this. Donghae is an amazing songwriter but it’s undeniable that his vocals can be weak. In California Love, the autotune was unexpected. I’m thinking they might’ve decided on that because he has sort of a nasal tone. It’s a bit sad because the chorus is catchy. Still, go listen to Blue Moon.


  3. I am surprised that Nick reviewed this – usually these meh pre-releases are skipped because they are meh pre-releases.

    Well, so, yeah, its a bit of a vanity release, but whatev.

    It does give me the opportunity to bring up better recent mid-tempo solo male releases like the Woodz “Waiting” and Heo Young Saeng “Mi casa, su casa” which both have some lovely vocal arrangements despite the processing button.


  4. I expected a little better because Jeno has been explosive in recent NCT Dream songs and vids. I wish there more time with them dancing together because it gave me big Ten/YangYang Low Low vibes (which I really liked, so hush). They have chemistry, but it’s not used to a great effect.

    But I think some Kpop artists have to research their song titles. It’s an OK song, but it’s competing with Tupac, Dr. Dre, Roger from Zapp and it’s a similar vibe. it’s going to lose bigtime in comparison.


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