Song Review: Yena – Smiley (ft. BiBi)

Yena - Smiley (ft. BiBi)I didn’t follow IZ*ONE to the extent where I’d know specific details about each member, but as they embark upon the next stage of their careers it’s fun seeing which direction their music takes. If judging purely by post-IZ*ONE debuts, I’d put Choi Yena in first place so far. Smiley is a ton of fluffy pop fun – just the kind of buoyant track I’m hoping to hear more of in 2022.

Yena positions herself as a smiley superhero in the fantastic music video, spreading joy to everyone she stumbles upon. That’s an admirable goal, and Smiley makes a suitable soundtrack for the mission. Its uncluttered pop-rock approach results in timeless listening. This could’ve been recorded and released in the mid-00’s or mid-10’s without many changes. That chameleon-like appeal might be considered generic, but shots of catchy positivity never really go out of style. Smiley sticks to a proven template. In this case, that’s a total strength.

Much of this appeal is due to Yena herself, who brings an addictive energy to the track. She relishes in the sing-into-your-hairbrush karaoke-ness of Smiley and that excitement is infectious. I should hate a song this blatantly cheerful. It’s commercial and predictable. Yet, Yena cuts through that jaded perspective. The producers were smart to bring in fellow soloist BiBi as a foil. Her contrasting approach not only adds texture and depth to the track, but prevents things from growing too sugary sweet. I’d like to hear a whole album of push-and-pull, light-and-dark material from this duo. But for now, it’s exciting to welcome Yena to the K-pop landscape. Long may her smiley powers shine!

Hooks 9
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75


23 thoughts on “Song Review: Yena – Smiley (ft. BiBi)

  1. YESSSSS I’m so glad you like this!!! This song is so cute, I absolutely adore it: even from the teasers I knew it was gonna be great. That chorus is so exciting!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I always thought Yena was one of the members with the most potential post-disbandment, so I was super excited to see what she would do! It seems she’s already built up a solid career as a variety show star, but I was curious what her plans as an idol would be – there were rumours she would join Everglow, which would also have been interesting to see, but I was happy to hear that she would debuting solo.

    Anyways, the song is a ton of fun! Very cute, and I definitely agree about the contrast Bibi brings. The chorus is slightly repetitive for me, but the track is so cheerful it’s hard not to smile and dance along. In that case, her mission was definitely a success! 😂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I was prepare to not like this. I mean stickers on the face is a bit overdone, yes? And to be fair, it kinda sounds like Debbie Gibson does kpop.

    But hey wow, what WHAT is that I hear?!!!!
    Is that an honest to goodness key change into the chorus?

    For that alone, yasssssss, killing me softly with a big smile and the gift of key change! Count me in for Miss Smiley.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. She’s always been my favourite IZ*ONE member so I’m glad she debuted with this song, its awesome. The mini album is also pretty good!


  5. I love it, reminds me of something from Avril’s Goodbye Lullaby album haha

    In a kpop industry that’s filled with “serious” and “cool” songs all the time nowadays, it’s nice to see a song and video like this that has a little fun and jokes around!!

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I couldn’t tell how much I liked the song when I was watching the MV because I was too distracted by how much FUN I was having. I even forgot that BIBI was guesting even though she’s the primary attraction for me in any track she does (and was great here too, although they did some processing at the end of her verse that sounded a bit off). Running through the song without the video, it’s still fun but that performance was what really sold me. I’ve gotten out of the habit of watching music shows but I will absolutely be looking for stages of this.

    I’m definitely getting retro R&B city-popped out, so the EP is going to have to wait. I feel like I need to cleanse my aural palate with some rock ballads or something.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Really enjoy it. I think the verses stand out. Blending that Olivia Rodrigo’s esque bass (others have used this bass line too) with Red Velvet-ism’s just works. That prechorus is cool too!

    The chorus is great, straightforward and I love Yena’s final chorus performance.

    I had a feeling that Yena would be the front runner of post-Iz*one solo. But I’m surprised how buble gum and camp this is, I really thought they would push her in a “charismatic” girl crush direction since she often took on that role in Iz*one.

    So a nice surprise and very fun track.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. The chorus is very fun – I just wish the vocals had a bit more power to turn up the intensity of the feeling. As it is it’s more pleasant than euphoric.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m pleasantly surprised by this song— Yena was always one of the most charismatic members of IZONE, but it’s rare that soloists get good debut material in my opinion. Her personality really shines with this one.

    The song kind of reminds me of Woodz’s “BUMP BUMP,” and maybe that’s not a coincidence because they are labelmates!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It has a very “Taylor Swift” vibe to it; which could be good or bad depending on your perspective. I think it is a perfect debut song for her. She needed something that was going to set her apart. Mission accomplished!

    Liked by 4 people

  11. i still ate this song up after a few months like i havent eat anything and thats a testament to how good this bop is. now yena has announced her comeback i couldnt be more patient. SHES GONNA MAKE ME SMILE AGAIN

    Liked by 1 person

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