Song Review: King & Prince – Ichiban

King & Prince - IchibanKing & Prince have proven themselves a versatile group, but not in a way that feels unfocused or slapdash. Instead, they’ve been able to dip into several genre pools and develop each as their career has grown. We’ve got the fizzy pop tracks (Cinderella Girl, Koi Furu Tsukiyo ni Kimi Omou), the sleek dance pop bangers (Mazy Night, Naughty Girl) and the swagger-fueled hip-hop songs. Ichiban follows where last year’s Magic Touch left off, moving even further into the genre with standout production and a wildly catchy hook.

I’ve seen some fans lament how Ichiban represents the NCT-ification of King & Prince, and I can see their point. I certainly don’t want Johnny’s to borrow too much from K-pop trends, but I don’t think there’s a real risk of that happening. And regardless of where King & Prince found their inspiration, K-pop acts would be lucky to get a groove this cavernous and irresistible.

Provided by producer/rapper Kreva, Ichiban’s instrumental melds hip-hop beats with traditional Japanese flourishes. The blend works perfectly, with neither element too prominent or too hesitant. This groove has real body to it. It’s not just another case of tinny trap hi-hats thrown over dull percussion. Kreva brought the bass that shakes cars, and his arrangement gives the production plenty of space to shine. The song’s full version boasts multiple instrumental breaks, including a twenty-second interlude after verse one. Ichiban warrants this indulgence. Its descending synth loops are so funky.

Better yet, Ichiban is an idol hip-hop track with an actual chorus! We could argue about how cringy it may be to see Johnny’s idols posing and posturing to these kind of hooks (the song is just goofy enough to allow it), but it’s hard to deny the potency of Ichiban’s chant-sung centerpiece. It’s such fun – boastful but relentlessly melodic. Like last year’s Namae Oshiete, it takes a simple conceit and elevates it with earnestness and panache.

 Hooks 9
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9

(both of these versions are edited down, but the full song is covered between both of them!)


15 thoughts on “Song Review: King & Prince – Ichiban

  1. I was waiting for you to review this! I absolutely love it 🥰🥰🥰. I never quite got into their other hiphop tracks, but this is a game changer. It’s almost old-school big bang/block-b which is very much missed in today’s kpop landscape. I also think that the performance is top notch, or maybe I am just biased and will eat up anything Hirano Sho.


  2. i wasn’t feeling it at first because i really like their sweeter, “cheesier” music (ala 恋降る月夜に君想ふ) and yet it grew on me a lot! think it has to do with the charisma they have / the performance but i love the catchy chorus a ton. probably the second johnny’s group i’ll have to do a deep dive into (including hirano sho) after turning into a snow man fan this year.


  3. This is fire!!! I like this way more than most current American hip hop songs. The guys are definitely tight rope walking the line between Cringey and cool, but I still enjoyed them.
    Jpop is really taking my heart. Kpop is so stale right now

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I liked it. Hitomi danced to this on tiktok and the japanese comments on there are hilarious. Johnny’s could have actually made use of all that traffic and promo to get streams on spotify and get them more well known to ifans … if that was the goal of the song, but alas, they’re still living in the past.


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