Review

Song Review: LE SSERAFIM – Fearless

LE SSERAFIM - Fearless2022 has seen a mixed bag of debuts, with plenty of new acts emerging but few leaving an identifiable mark. No group has received as much pre-debut hype as HYBE/Source Music’s LE SSERAFIM. In a way only K-pop can manage, they were a huge success even before any music had been released! With name recognition from IZ*ONE, fueled by the legacy of watershed acts like BTS and GFriend, LE SSERAFIM’s Fearless arrives with maximum anticipation.

Fearless is sleek, funky dance pop with most of its edges smoothed out. It comes courtesy of producers Score and Megatone, who were responsible for some of my favorite tracks of 2021. Their ambition is tempered here, as Fearless opts to bunt rather than swing for the rafters. For such a highly-anticipated debut, this subdued approach is a little surprising. Fearless finds its groove immediately and rarely strays, opting for a hook that’s more catchphrase than melody. It’s a testament to the production and performance that this works as well as it does.

I really like how low-key the vocals are on Fearless. The girls sing in a comfortable register, avoiding the type of shout-talk that often comprises K-pop tracks of this style. From the opening volley of ascending vocals to the catchy spoken-word hook, their hushed delivery feels cool and aloof. This approach makes the explosive pre-chorus stand out, as rock guitar provides a jolt of energy.

If anything, Fearless suffers from its simplicity. The song isn’t even three minutes long, yet still feels a little repetitive and one-note. Thankfully, that one note is quite satisfying. Rather than assume this is the best they have to offer, I’ll take Fearless as a statement of intent, instantly distinguishing LA SSERAFIM from their peers. I hope they can build on its charms with more daring material in the future.

Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.5

70 thoughts on “Song Review: LE SSERAFIM – Fearless

  1. Lesser as fim

    As long as I don’t overthink it, its fine. Milquetoast.

    Also, I see six girls but hear only about one girl.

    On a philosophical level, the line between what is a pop song and what is advertisement is truly blurred now, here. The song sounds just like any Apple phone ad or the like these days, the ones we all must listen through at least 5 or 15 seconds before the skip button appears and we can collect our extra life and coins in the game. The seconds that distinguish one form of commerce from another form of commerce while engaging in a third form of commerce. Our economy is based upon ads that divert our time 15 seconds at a time, a new variant of nickel and diming us. This here is no different – the group and song are products being sold by the second designed to divert our attention moment by moment and penny by penny.

    Liked by 10 people

      • Sorry if this seems pedantic but XG is not a YG group. There was a lot of misinformation being thrown around and the name “XG” certainly does not help things.

        Basically XG is a group under sublabel XGALX of AVEX, a Japanese record label, and said sublabel is run by former member of DMTN Simon. YG and Avex have a partnership for the former’s Japanese promotions in joint label YGEX not to be confused with YG’s own sublabel YGX. It’s all very confusing but other than XG using YGX’s Korean dance studio and possibly receiving some training from YGX there isn’t any evidence YG has any producing or managing on the group.

        Liked by 2 people

    • You took the words out of my mouth. When phrased that way, this song feels like a cleaner/elegant version of O.O for me. The whole MV feels like it’s stuck between a limbo of “soulless and bland” and “good and has character” too, and that’s a lot considering that I’m supposed to be biased since it has Sakura in it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think you are giving too much credit to the song as a product. The song and MV are less a product themselves than they are the delivery method to further advertise and sell the group. The idols are the ultimate product, not the music. Those of us here for the music are the minority. If it was song quality that people the majority of K-Pop fans cared about, a solid 80% – 90% or so of album sales wouldn’t be preorders. It’s the group and individual idols being marketed simultaneously to prospective hardcore fans and businesses looking to turn those fans into customers by having them represent their products. I don’t think the members of Astro need sanitary pads lol.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The idols are the ultimate product, not the music. –>> 100%

        This is very true for Kpop industry, except for groups like Seventeen who manage to sell music and their live performances – which is super rare.

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        • Whoops. Don’t mind me… me and my mushy brain from 3 concussions in 2 months are just going to sit in a corner and resign myself to speaking gibberish. 🙂

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    • yep, that was the one only clip that wasn’t needed, especially since it makes me thinks of the dance from that once dancer (it was cool and I think a rapper song over it, but she was in a gym, sweaty and obviously overt)

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  2. Throughout the song/MV, you see different girls singing the chorus and they’re credited as such in the line distribution. I think it’s amazing the way all the girls sound the exact same during those parts. How’d they do that?

    I mean, there are other parts in the song where you can tell you’re listening to the different timbres/registers of each girl, but during the chorus/hook bits, Sakura’s voice from the first chorus is identical to Garam’s during the second chorus, and then they both sound the same as Yunjin during the final chorus after the bridge; and vice versa. Oh, and Kazuha comes in at the very end sounding like the other 3. What’re the odds?!? That’s some next level vocal training right there; know what I’m saying?

    Say what you want, but it sure is comforting not having to differentiate vocal textures because why muck up continuity during key parts of the song? It can be so confusing, amirite? Oh, and major props to HYBE for accomplishing that miracle of tonal symmetry. Their trainers are masters of their craft!!

    ===

    In all seriousness, I am getting so sick and tired of agencies giving mic time to members during parts that are obviously being sung by either other members or a singer not even in the group. It reminds me of the controversy during 90s when C+C Music Factory did Martha Wash dirty by not crediting her for her fantastic vocals during “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”, and then added insult to injury by having Zelma Davis lip-sync her voice in the music video. Even if all parties are fine with the switcheroo, I’m not.

    Studio vocal dickery is unacceptable. Either use the members that can actually sing, or (if they can’t sing) keep them in the group as eye candy, cultural magnets, and/or marketing fluff, but take the microphones out of their hands if they can’t do-re-my socks off.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go breathe into a paper bag. Wish me luck.

    P.S. ..and no, there’s no glue in the bag.. ..because I ran out of it last week.
    P.P.S. Note to self: add model glue to shopping list.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes, I remember that time. Also Milli Vanilli. Also JLo singing barely a single note on her early albums – they left the guiding tracks on for the final versions, some of it was clearly Ashanti and not JLo.

      To be fair, the chorus as a chorus is not new. Even Shinee and SuJu have done it. Who sings the chorus in Ring Ding or Mr Simple? The difference is that there is usually one of them in the mix blended towards the front of the mix. (For example, “Acha” chorus as chorus has a heavy Kyuhyun.) It was one way SuJu got through military service, 10 years of it with one or more members out, by rotating parts around and the chorus as chorus.

      They other way is this neglected technique known as live singing. Who took whose part, almost extemporaneously. There was even a time when SM shared people across groups. Here is Yesung with Shinee when Jonghyun was out sick – can you imagine this today?

      As a bonus, Leeteuk subbing for Onew.
      ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNsmraflNu4

      Liked by 2 people

      • I hear what you’re saying, but all of the choruses in “Fearless” are dominated by a single voice (albeit a processed one), and I have a reasonable suspicion that it doesn’t belong to any of the girls in the group; given that I’m familiar with how some of the girls “allegedly” singing it actually sound. Either way, it doesn’t sit well with me. I know I’m going to piss off some fans, but.. ..to thine own self be true.

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    • (More thoughts)

      HYBE must have the best audio engineers on big buck salaries on their payroll though. It shows up in songs like this, also TXT, and also BTS. I was watching some clips of BTS live from their recent concerts. They do something really clever. During the softer songs, there are at least four vocal lines for each member. There is the backing studio recording track. Then there are at least two pre-recorded lines on the concert mics. Then, if the singer choose to sing, there is the live live vocal. They way all four are blended on the panel, it is studio < pre-rec 1 < live live < pre-rec 2. So when they choose to sing live, it just floats right there in the upper middle of the mix, present but not a distracting on and off. And when they aren't singing it isn't as obvious if it were only a backing track.
      Interesting, expensive, complicated, but it does produce a concert that sounds pretty good.

      Liked by 4 people

      • If I remember correctly, there was a live stage where it appeared that the singers were actually singing because there were slight pitch variations and some adlibbing, but then a glitch occurred and it became obvious it was a pre-recording. Making pre-recs that sound like live stages? That’s some serious “wool sleep mask” stuff right there.

        Liked by 2 people

      • My reply seems odd as I read it. I was agreeing with you and bringing up a separate instance where that occurred; just to clarify.

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    • They do sound very similar. I think that really defeats the purpose of using multiple members. Eunchae only got two pre chorus lines so I’m inclined to think mixing is to blame

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  3. As a former WIZONE, just finally getting this debut feels relieving. After all the months of uncertainty and flat out mess surrounding it, it almost felt like this weird collective fever dream to cope with the IZONE disbandment. But NOW it’s a real thing that’s finally here and exists.

    As for the actual song tho, I’m not a fan tbh. It’s not overtly bad or anything but it’s just a bit too monotonous for me to really like. I wasn’t really feeling any of the accompanying b-sides either unfortunately

    Liked by 2 people

    • I recommend listening the B-sides, especially artists coming from Hybe. Their music quality and production is amazing. Sometimes B-sides are an upgrade from the title songs, I recommend the great Mermaid, or Blue flame for a more relaxing groove.

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  4. If this song was composed before 2020 it’d have a more exciting chorus but, since we are no longer in the golden age of girl group pop, this song serves the requested attitude without noise or a convoluted instrumental for shock value. This is a perfectly serviceable song. A win if you ask me.

    Liked by 7 people

  5. The lyrics are great for a debut. The music is nice, but very subdued. I was waiting for some power notes from Yun-jin, like we got from her in Produce48, but I’m sure we’ll get that eventually.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. from the teasers, i thought this was gonna be some sort of rock anthem. this song is servicable, if a bit boring. listening to the b-sides, they sound much better, especially the great mermaid

    Liked by 3 people

  7. There”s a lot I like about this song, but by the end of the first listen…I was bummed there’s not really a bridge and the final chorus doesn’t do anything different than what’s been done before.

    But it’s cool , stylish, well-engineered.
    It is very catchy, ear wormy, and repeatable. I think this will end up in favor for the song’s longevity and popularity.

    This is one of those time’s that the teasers revealed basically all this song has to offer.

    Yena’s Smiley is still my fav post-Izone release.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. The floor dancing part was bad. HYBE is really ridiculous for even trying to pander to the mob. I mean it might be all about criticism of the paternal gaze, however, this absolutely does disservice to the actual idea of women empowerment. In any case, this song is decent, I was quite bummed by its simplicity but I think 13’s production style saved the song from being too one-note. The song reminds me of the mid 2000s, the era of sleekness and digital style. It really does sound like a Apple, Motorola or any smartphone ad song.

    Liked by 6 people

    • I have a friend who said the song reminded her of a cosmetic ad! So I’m sensing Hybe will get royalties with Fearless cause it’s safe to use in anything lmao

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Kinda surprised by the high rating. I found it very underwhelming. The chorus is instantly catchy, I’ll give it that, but the whole thing is so low key with no real climax it gets old fast. It almost feels like a CF song, especially when paired with the minimalist look of the MV. Say what you want about O.O, but at least it wasn’t boring. This debut song, on the other hand…

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Im just glad is somewhat different than your current kpop song where you mix 3 or 4 songs together. Also god bless there is no effin high note as the end. Kpop fans usually think a high note is completely necessary, no, it isnt every single kpop song having the same structure a a high note near the end is extremely boring

    Liked by 2 people

  11. hybe has yet again succeeded in making every member’s voice sound exactly the same. personally, i would like to tell the difference between yunjin and chaewon – and give them some real melodies to sing! this song would’ve been incredible with a powerful second part to the chorus or a big anthemic outro.

    not bad in general though. i like the chic model concept of the mv, and the mini seems promising. and i’m just so happy to see yunjin finally get her time

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Very simple, but enjoyable. I wish they were more ambitious and had more singing. This could’ve been really awful though, but I don’t know if I prefer a song that leaves no impression over one that I don’t like but is interesting

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Seeing the reception of fans in social media, I was expecting a sound that’s more energetic and coherent from start to end. But this… is not what I expected.

    I can see the good things people see in it, but it’s not for me. The song’s too simple for my taste, to the point that I felt bored until the end. The prechorus was actually a nice buildup though, so I’ll give it that. It kind of feels like they’re trying to be cautious and playing it safe here. I’m surprised that it was produced by Score and Megatone!

    Overall, I’ll give this song 7/10. Maybe if I give it a few more listens, I would like it. But for now, it’ll be on the sidelines. Also, is it me, or some of the choreography is a bit… uncomfortable to look at?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Look. I know we can critique kpop group names until the sun comes home, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter, but I think this one might break me.

    Why? Because it should very obviously be “Les Serafim.” Seraphim is plural, so the article in front should be as well. You can accomplish this by moving literally a single letter from the start of the second word to the end of the first. You retain the anagram while sparing the five or so kpop fans who care about this stuff some heartburn. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO EASYYYYY

    Oh right, the song. It was whatever to me. Everyone saying it sounds like a commercial song is 100% correct, only it’s not even a very memorable one.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. This song sounds really bland and simple i got bored by it not even halfway through , i haven’t checked out the b-sides yet and honestly this song doesn’t make me want to tbh , i hope their next comeback will be more inspiring

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  16. It is almost funny how a simple non-gimmicky song is quite a rare entity nowadays. I am partly charmed, partly taken aback and partly undecided about how I feel. On one hand I love the simplicity of the song. The comfortable register promises for possibly good live performances without the traditional Hype audio mixing. The clean nature means good opportunity to focus on each girl properly. I really found this an interesting direction for such a hyped up group. There is a part of me though that feels that I might just forget this song sooner.

    But this simplicity DID make them stand out from other groups and perhaps I low-key would enjoy if they stuck to this with just a little flourishes here and there instead of revamping to a whole new sound 🙂

    I was mostly interested in this after I saw Chaewon with her short hair lol. She’s highly charismatic! I don’t know how I’ll feel about this song in the long run but for now it was pretty nice to vibe to!

    Liked by 2 people

    • They took it out of the live performance. I’m not sure if they changed the choreography or if they just have two versions for live singing or dance performances. I guess we’ll know when they inevitably drop Studio Choom and dance practice videos.

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  17. I know you’ve complained about the pivot from cute aegyo being everywhere to shouty girl crush being everywhere, but it looks like we could be moving to coy and subdued sexy concepts given how Ive and this group seem to be marketed. What would be your take on this? Even if I like the music or don’t, it’s a bit worrying that the company executives are seeming to try and get teen girls to make a group and pander to the male gaze even more than previously thought. Part of me thinks this could be a response to girl crush and the backlash that could have arisen from more and more groups trying to market to women audiences when historically, kpop girl groups have appealed to what men find sexy

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  18. I think there is a typo in the first para…I think you meant pre-debut hype?

    Don’t know what to think of this song… I liked the melody in the chorus but apparently that is all there is to it.. Anyways, they seem to be doing well already so I wish them all the best in the future and hope their future songs have more meat to them.

    I liked some of the other songs on their album though. None title track material but fun bits.

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  19. My opinion on this song is all over the place — I’m currently in the phase of liking it, but that is easily prone to change. Chaewon was my IZ*ONE bias, so I was really anticipating this debut, and I do sorta like it, but the floor choreo… and the really skimpy clothing… and ugh, couldn’t they have done sexy with older girls? this makes me so uncomfortable. not to mention that i found the chorus a total buzzkill. was gangsta through the prechorus.

    It’s joined my playlist but idk how it’ll age

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  20. The song is good, especially the bridge. I listened to the audio first and thought it was kind of mediocre but I appreciated the song more while watching the mv.

    As an IZ*ONE ult, I’m honestly just relieved that almost every former IZ*ONE member seems to have regained their footing. I’m excited to see what else lesserafim will release in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I can appreciate what they were trying to do, but it’s like the song (and even the MV as well) are trying too hard to seem like they aren’t trying. Some things kind of threw me… like in the 2nd verse switch from a very heavy distortion/autotune effect on the first girl to very raw, almost unprocessed vocals for the second. Just my opinion, but for the final chorus after the bridge, I wish they axed some of the restraint and bulked up the instrumental more and just took the training wheels off completely. (Random aside, but somehow the hook for me isn’t what they intended, it’s how sharp Chaewon makes her g’s in “get away” lol.)

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  22. Ok I came back to comment because I thought I’ll share that their B-side “Blue Flame” is good! I’ve been listening to it nonstop for the last few days and I like it so much more than this song. Nick, was wondering if you are going to have any “Buried Treasures” from their album or you are going to give this a pass? I’ll keep my posting on Blue Flame short here then! Thanks

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  23. Go hear this song with repetition as long as u can. Then you’ll realize, this is that kind of song who will be avoided in ur playlist. The same case when I heard Aespa-Next Level. First time is good, but, u’ll easily get bored for the next.

    But the good thing is, their audio of voice here is sick bruh. It’s like “Choir” but with amazing sound engineering.

    Like

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