Review

Song Review: Kep1er – Up!

Kep1er - Up!After debuting at the start of 2022, the MNET-spawned rookie group Kep1er took a detour via the company’s own Queendom competition, further building their fanbase as they competed with senior acts. Now, it’s time to get back to the music with the summer-themed Up. I’m more than ready for a great 2022 summer track, and producers Full8loom could easily be the ones to deliver. Unfortunately, Up doesn’t quite reach the dizzying heights of past summer triumphs.

There’s a great song in here somewhere, but Up tries to do too much. Rather than focus on one of two killer hooks, it pinballs from moment to moment with breathless energy. I’m all for “breathless energy,” and Kep1er are certainly equipped to deliver. But, too much of Up is stolen by heavily-affected sing-talk. When the song is good – like during its refreshing post-chorus – Up conjures classic summertime energy. The synths that emerge during the bridge are pure Sistar Shake It, but those same tones spend the pre-chorus being strangled by claustrophobic percussion and generic chant-rapping.

Exciting touches abound within Up’s busy arrangement. I wish they were developed further. The talk box in the intro gets buried within the rest of the track, and the shifting momentum threatens to neuter the track’s propulsive moments. The chorus is fun, but isn’t hitting me in the way I had hoped. The seasonal theming will ensure greater longevity than most tracks of this style, but it’s a high bar for girl group summer tracks. Going back even a year (or three) I don’t see this coming close to modern classics like Chi Mat Ba Ram, Boogie Up or Tiki-Taka.

Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25

33 thoughts on “Song Review: Kep1er – Up!

  1. I already loved it from the teasers, and I’ve been randomly going WE GO ! nanananan RAINBOW ! for days now. The first verse going to the chorus caught me off guard, but I loved it the second time, and all the others I listened to before. However, I do agree that it wants to do too much rather than focusing on what it already has of great. Still, lovely song, and the chorus is super catchy. I liked it more than the other songs in the album, but I liked Attention and Good Night a lot too.

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  2. What can I say? A nice, fun summer song. I want to LOVE it, not just like it, as bright concepts tend to me my cup of tea (y’all already know it). Alas, some of its flaws prevent me from loving the track. Unfortunately, the song tries to do way too much, especially during the chorus, it feels empty and overstuffed with everything at the same time. Also, there’s just an excessive amount of this irritating sing-talk, which does the girls (and me too) no favours.
    Rating is about right.

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  3. They definitely garner a ‘most improved’ from me. Up not only embodies it’s title but does a great job of line distribution and building itself out as a good time. Kep1er is on the right track with this one and it makes me excited for them to keep at this pace & continue improving.

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  4. I’m not mad at this! Not obsessed on first listen but I can see it really growing on me. I’m glad they decided to go with this sound for the summer

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  5. stop writing for kpop. stop writing about girls half your age. stop writing on the flaws of composers if you can’t be bothered to contact them yourself (i promise they enjoy the input). your initial review on chi mat ba ram was that it was lackluster too. it seems like your interest wanes so significantly in kpop as the years progress that absolutely no sound can satisfy you and i get that standards can change depending on the current kpop atmosphere/market but your reviews, especially lately, are asking for way too much. everything is a comparison to the past. next summer it will be another young group of girls who probably should’ve waited another 5 years before debuting that you take and compare to this piece. it’s decent. it’s fun. nobody else is doing this sound at the moment. and you’d have given it a 8.75 or higher 2 years ago. feels disappointing to see a page i used to hold in high regard and praise not even 2 years ago regress to an pitchfork-like, condescending mentality for what’s essentially just korean teens and young adults doing their best. it’s the summer, for god’s sake – let’s enjoy it?

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    • Hey I’m not trying to sound condescending here but I think you might benefit from taking your own advice and enjoying the summer. If reading this blog isn’t enlightening or fun for you then that might be a cue to walk away and make some lemonade or something.

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    • I think you’re a product of what the kpop industry wants from fans. You’re here fighting for idols who don’t know you just because you can’t handle them being criticized. In my opinion people like you aren’t even real fans, cause when you love something you can criticize it. Nick reviewed the song and didn’t disparage the girls at all. So, don’t act like he did. He knows they work hard so he tries not to talk badly about the performers themselves. If you can’t handle it, stop reading cause he’s not doing anything wrong. Take your own advice and try to enjoy the summer instead of being mad because someone had an option. And how dare you say it like Nick is being a creep of some sort.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I kinda get what this comment is saying, though I think that this wasn’t the BEST attempt on communicating. After all, this is (the owner)’s blog and in theory, as long as it’s not offensive (the review wasn’t), they can publish their opinion as they want. But you know, you’re not WRONG either because if the writer wants to publish criticism they would have to take it as well – but it’s not the purpose, I think. Either way, I get it. I’m not a regular reader, but I was searching for reviews and I ended up reading posts about groups I like and disliske and I think I’ve read a lot. So, I think the writer would benefit from analying their own bias and check their mysogynist and ageist tones. I’m in no way calling anyone a women hater BUT we’re all fed up in structural opression and it affects us even when we don’t realize. It’s okay to enjoy men/boy groups artists more or even only, but certain criticism towards women have rubbed me the wrong way. It seems that women need to do the absolute best to compete with men here and if this was slightly neutral…. hum. I mean, Brave Girls, Taeyeon and even great recent solos post-Izone’s reviews compared to classic boy groups great releases… girls need to do way too much and it’s barely the recognition and respect that they deserve. It kinds feels that the writer is stuck in the past and kind of hate what they’re doing.

      Again, this is how criticism in music made by men is – anything associated with femininity/infancy is not “good” compared to serious men music. Fun fact, the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu actually has a simple book on that (Masculine Domination) and one of the analysis is how men enters areas dominated by women bringing a sign of distinction, elegance and quality – we can see the difference by thinking about sewing/seamstress and how tradictionally feminine areas (as cooking as well) became “professional” and distinct” when men elevate those areas and become the big names. We are undeniable affected by gender bias and we can be unaware how we’re replicating those ideas and how they shape us. (((Again, I do think there are terrible reviews here directed at men as well. I’m here still speechless after reading the D.O.’s solo review (and even the implication the the other korean exo solos were mediocre… I mean… jesus christ who is doing good music then) . Not only it seems to be written by someone that has no idea of who D.O. is as an artist and how the realease was made, but it’s just poorly written and honestly… criticizing an artistic “personal taste” instead of focusing on the songs? Terrible, just terrible. It seems like the writer is angry that an idol is not what they have designed them to be, not looking into the actual content they release.)))

      I’m a hundred percent not into those kind of “fast food” reviews. I personally believe that an album isn’t something you can analyse immediately, one after the other by multiple groups (!!!), and then review it, it’s trading quality for quantity and IT SHOWS. And that’s the reason I think this comment is a bit misplaced (and I myself don’t intend to keep commenting or reading the blog). This isn’t a professional review blog and it doesn’t show a lot of effort, this is a personal blog and this person isn’t making money out of it, so. Asking them to stop doesn’t make any sense. I don’t think I should tell them what to do and grade them like this blog do to so many products made by a number of professionals JUST A FEW hours after they were released (one after the other omg????) in a half-hearted text that sounds like a “old men screaming at the clouds” bot wrote. That’s their thing. Good for them.

      Keep up the mediocre work! Poeple enjoy that!

      (I liked the kep1er track but why is this comeback looking so goddamn cheap??? why are the rookies and known broke company bbc giving their releases a better look and product visually? maybe they are not interested in making kep1er happen knowing that they will sell well??? maybe mnet was disppointed at their queendom performance/voting? maybe mnet is preparing another survival show? maybe it’s because they aren’t into a “global group” is not their milking cow?? well, everything was cheap and rushed and the timing wasn’t great. Everyone is paying attention to aespa rn)

      Liked by 2 people

      • You see… I’m so glad I don’t have a person like this in my life. I’m going to wake up every day and thank God I don’t know people like the two kpop idol worshippers in this thread. I honestly wonder what’s wrong with them or going wrong in their lives and hope they get help/ get those problems resolved

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      • You have some very interesting ideas and valid questions to raise here, but I don’t get the impression you’ve really understood this blog’s intent or tone (although I can see you’ve made an effort to do so, which I appreciate). The D.O. comment was a bit odd – just because that’s who D.O. is as an artist doesn’t mean it’s automatically great music, or suited to the taste of this particular reviewer.

        I feel I’m pretty sensitive to sexism in media and reviews, but I don’t think it’s fair to accuse Nick of that particular bias. If we’re going to talk feminine-coded (or youth-coded) cultural products, I would argue that Nick is a major supporter of this in both male and female groups and artists – see all his love of bubblegum and bright concepts and his bemoaning of their falling out of fashion. My impression of his best-of lists is that they’ve had a pretty even split of male-female artists. And it’s pretty clear he’s equally tough on both boy and girl groups going for darker blustery concepts.

        If you want to continue your academic approach, you could do a systematic review! (not snark, I genuinely think that would be interesting; we all have subconscious bias as you say, so maybe I’m wrong here).

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    • While I don’t always agree with everything he writes, I feel like to be actually offended by anything on The Bias List at all, one really does have to be a very special type of sheltered little lamb. Really he is the nicest guy ever and I mean that in the most positive sense. I can think of certain other k-pop writers (ahem) who definitely wouldn’t bother to use the kind of all-inclusive, friendly objective tone that Nick does. If his reviews are the gold standard for what is upsetting you so hard right now that you need to write a comment on it, I wonder how you deal with conflict situations in your real life. A bit of resilience is a good thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It sounds like it is trying too hard to sound like fun, without being actual fun. And with no real melody to grab onto, the song is a collection of adlibs arranged to sound like a song.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The chorus was a winner for me the moment I heard it in the teasers, so the song is still a hit for me! The verses are messy but with a good chorus to anchor the song I don’t mind as much. Too bad the rest of the album is basically ballads which is not my thing, but I’m happy with the title track. Kep1er is definitely going *up* with this one lol

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  8. I like it!!! Reminds me of Boogie Up a bit. The chorus is a winner for sure. The verses could definitely use some work tho which hold the song back from its full potential. The like final minute tho when they do all the nice electronic tricks is cool tho.

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  9. Cute! They all sweet and cute here! And that chorus is summery happiness! The rest might need some time to grow but this is light and fun, so I enjoyed it. I think it’s a good cb for them! 🙂 I really love Kepler as a group and enjoy their tones and presence a lot so I do have a soft spot for these girls 🙂

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  10. it’s cute! there’s a bunch of moments that i like in here (was pleasantly surprised by the chorus!) but the arrangement of these pieces is holding it back from being great. i do think it’s a big improvement from wa da da overall, and is a good step in the right direction for them (fingers crossed).

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  11. Thanks for including Tiki Taka and Boogie Up as a reminder of the power of recent summer songs. Jeez, Tiki taka kinda makes me tear because the potential of Weki Meki is on full display and I just feel like they’ve never been given the opportunity to show what they’re really capable of (FUN and SUNG music)

    I am down with the new Kep1er single. I think the way that it quotes “Shake it” is a great analog to how this holds a flame to the great summer songs but isn’t quite it.

    I am very very very happy to see Full8loom take the helm on this title. I really am glad to see Korean producers behind title tracks. Nothing against international composers/producers/songwriters. But I do like the idea of K-pop containing musical ideas and pop approaches that are uniquely Korean.
    In some ways nodding towards Black Eyed Pilsung’s work with Sistar, confirms that for me.

    I like this song…but it’s a little disjunct. Similar to “Flip that” there are awesome parts, but the song as a whole is just not quite complete. When you listen to these songs you can really hear the A&R giving directions to the producers.

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  12. I really like the direction they took with this album, I hope to see more of this kind of music because I’m a bit saturated with girl crush and I think for the first time all the members shined equally on this title track. Even so, I agree that it lacks something to be a classic but I still enjoy it and it’s the tenth time I’ve heard it today.

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  13. I finally got around to listening to the new releases and I see that I didn’t miss much (or at all). This song sounds like its confused. I too am confused with what to play these days.

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