Song Review: iKON – But You

iKON - But YouThough they participated in last year’s Kingdom: Legendary War, iKON haven’t made a comeback since just before that competition started. Blame YG Entertainment’s always-slow promotional approach, I guess. Since losing leader B.I in 2019, the band has undergone big changes and But You’s switch to moody synth-pop has to be their most drastic sonic switch-up yet.

This isn’t without precedent. Synth sounds are everywhere these days, and iKON are only the latest to jump on the bandwagon. But coming on the heels of a couple good-not-great title tracks, this makeover is quite welcome. This is easily the strongest iKON title in years, and may just be one of the strongest titles we’ve heard so far this year.

But You (너라는 이유) isn’t particularly ambitious, but it nails its sound and sentiment without needless detours. This style of synth-driven pop requires a strong through-line, and the track curves and crests in all the right places. Its electronic beat remains steady, leaving room for extra drama during the chorus. The verses glide on a beautiful melody that’s instantly memorable. It’s rare to hear this melodic focus in K-pop verses, which are often structured to give every performer the chance to interject a throwaway line or two. With such a strong set-up, But You’s chorus is a little underwhelming. I’m confident it’ll grow with time, and I love its cathartic climax. But, I wish the first half of the chorus delivered just a bit more oomph. Because of this, I’m waffling at the edge of a “9” rating. I can see the song getting there in the coming weeks.

Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75


7 thoughts on “Song Review: iKON – But You

  1. Man oh man, when Kpop gets hold of a trend, it just does not let go.

    You know how if you go to NYC and want to buy sunglasses from a street vendor, you start at one end of the street working your way down, and you may as well buy the nth pair you like, because the mix at the start of the street is just about the same as the mix at the end of the street. And if by the end there is something that much more special, just buy the second pair too, for $10 or something. 2 for $15.

    I listened to this song a few times over, then someone called From20 “Weol” autoplayed, and it is another one. ‘

    I love this one. The vocals are superb and minimally processed. There is an actual melody. I agree this is their strongest title in a while, and score mid to high-8’s is about right. Ikon got the brief of retro and yet _contemporary_, and delivered. It makes me want to get octagonal mirror sunglasses with arms that wrap around the ears. I also love From20 “Weol”. I am buying both, a twofer. Also a pretzel from the next vendor I see.

    If I still had the Memphis-style t-shirt “SOHO” I bought from a street vendor in my youth, I would also still love it. It was big and boxy and might still fit. I can’t believe Keith Haring t-shirts have come around again, in a good way. My sister had one or two, now my son has one from the Gap of all places. Back when, Keith Haring was popular in the subculture, as a visual representation of all the doom and gloom of the 80’s, AIDS, the cold war, sex drugs and rock n rock, through the comic pop art medium. Back then it was quietly subversive, today its just trendy.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Although I’m definitely into 80s revival, retro-future and new-disco, I think that this hasn’t actually much to do with iKON’s DNA and evolution. And unlike the anthems of the golden age of technopop, it delivers a chorus which is not choral. The result is a flat sequence of synth and drums which imho doesn’t really go anywhere. Once again, Dragon would have been a more impactful choice, and much more recognizable as iKON’s trademark.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like it! I think I’d have it at an 8.25 or 8.5 though, I definitely agree about the chorus being underwhelming, but we’ll see if it grows on me.

    Really though, what took YG so long to give Ikon a comeback? Nearly a year since Kingdom has finished airing and you would think it’s the perfect time to take advantage of the post-show hype. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised…

    Liked by 1 person

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