Song Review: &AUDITION – The Final Countdown

&AUDITION - The Final CountdownTheme songs to survival series (or “signal songs,” as they’re sometimes called) have become their own K-pop/J-pop sub-genre. They can be a ton of fun, offering producers the chance to go larger-than-life, unencumbered by the restrictions placed upon traditional comebacks. They can also sound like generic mush, bringing together so many voices that the final product ends up becoming flat – anthemic in a canned way.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I still consider season two of Produce 101 to be the standard-bearer for this song template. That year’s Pick Me went big and bold, climaxing in a euphoric build. HYBE has been less successful with their attempts at the sound. Most of the original I-Land material felt forgettable, boasting all the personality of a corporate machine. The Final Countdown (not a cover of the epic 1986 Europe single, unfortunately!) acts as the signal song for the agency’s upcoming Japanese series &AUDITION – The Howling. This show will give viewers a chance to reacquaint themselves with I-Land stars K, Nicholas, EJ & Ta-Ki, alongside additional trainees vying for a spot in the final group.

The Final Countdown is pretty milquetoast in execution. It has that “canned anthemic” feel mentioned earlier, which has become a pet peeve of mine. However, I like how its verses offer a showcase for solo voices. The usual HYBE vocal processing doesn’t feel too heavy-handed, and the brief drum-and-bass breakdowns are appealing. But by the time we crest in the song’s chorus, The Final Countdown succumbs to familiar tropes. The end result serves its purpose, but feels every bit as generic as you’d expect from a project like this. Hopefully the series itself will have a bit more personality.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.75


13 thoughts on “Song Review: &AUDITION – The Final Countdown

  1. My sister and I just got back from Disney. During the fireworks shows, there was a stirring song which even we did not know. Despite the ages of ourselves and our kids covering most eras of DIsney movies, somehow that song sounded perfectly Disney hero / heroine “I Want” song, and yet we could not place it. We had a good laugh singing along anyway, making lyrics up with dramatic gestures.

    I feel like Hybe has a whole back room full of these schmaltzy “I Want” that they can pull out and put on whatever group is next. Today, it is this group of idol wannabes. I wish them the best of luck.

    (For the record, the song was from Hunchback of Notre Dame.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • This song is produced by ALYSA who’s a new producer in their japan label, and I quite enjoyed her earlier work before she joined


  2. I couldn’t find this on Apple Music, but don’t care because now I’m listening to Europe’s version and my day is immediately 25% better.


    • I only had the 30-some sec clip too on youtube until Nick posted the full version above.

      In the meantime, I googled around and had to find the microwave Final Countdown ad, because it is hysterical. It is the progenitor of all the current Geico “the house is great but we have a small ____ problem in the attic” ads.


      Liked by 1 person

    • I like it, but I’m a sucker for these kind of straightforward, melodic anthems. I listened to the concert version months ago, so the song doesn’t feel new to me. But, this album’s shaping up to be great!

      (If I’m quibbling juuuust a bit, I’d love to hear more of an Edge of Glory style grit to the instrumental)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “canned anthemic” is a great way to describe. It’s supposed to feel big and triumphant but instead feels well…canned.

    Also, is there any word on I-Land 2??? I remember some promo vid months ago but there’s been nothing since then, and now with this new show,im curious where I-Land currently sits on the release schedule


  4. It’s nice to see K and the others lol. I didn’t even know about this show until reading this.

    The song is alright I wasn’t hit as hard by the chorus as I felt I should’ve been and I can’t remember the verses


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