Buried Treasure: H1-KEY – Heart Light

H1-KEY - Heart LightA K-pop act’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.

H1-KEY’s newest single album has been a wonderful surprise. Not only is the title track strong, but it’s eclipsed by two b-sides that are even better! Catch ‘n’ Release borrows some madcap Orange Caramel energy and tethers it to a super-hooky arrangement, while Heart Light is a straight-up summer banger.

To me, this group has an obvious second-generation sound, from the way they deliver their vocals to the robust nature of their songwriting. It’s a welcome characteristic, especially as so many of their peers are opting for the exact same fourth-gen approach. Heart Light could have been a big, successful single around 2012-13, melding anthemic rock influences with propulsive EDM catharsis. The track also has a ton of BLACKPINK in it – especially when it comes to the girls’ vocal performance. (On a related note, we’d be quite lucky if next month’s BLACKPINK comeback sounded anything like this!)

While I don’t think Heart Light’s melody is super interesting or memorable, the overall vibe is so fun and fresh that it hardly matters. There’s a sense of largeness here – suitable for outdoor festivals in a way most modern K-pop doesn’t even attempt. The fact that something so widescreen would come from such an under-known rookie group is quite thrilling. If H1-KEY stick with this sound and further develop it, they could be real dark horses in the industry. They certainly have my attention.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75

7 thoughts on “Buried Treasure: H1-KEY – Heart Light

  1. Yep, this one slaps! Considering that I didn’t know who these girls were a week ago, I was also pleasantly caught off-guard by how well-produced this whole release was – even if the other two tracks weren’t really my thing.


  2. This b-side is just gorgeous. I’m in love with the song’s early-2010’s EDM vibes, although there isn’t something particularly interesting about it. However, my rating would be a little bit lower, somewhere in the mid-8’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes!!! 🤩 The second I heard this on the highlight medley I just knew this would be good! I straight off listened to this first when the album dropped and I was so satisfied!! ❤ It’s definitely gonna be one of my fave bsides this year!

    And perfectly agree with how they seem to be focussing on vocals! They all have such strong voices and I really hope they continue on this track! I remember reading somewhere how the girls said their inspiration was Mamamoo and back then I thought that was kinda interesting because most everyone picks choreo based groups and them picking a vocal group was different.

    Honestly I’m surprised by this too. Even though I liked them right from debut I wasn’t expecting much. If they keep up with those vocals then definitely they could be real dark horses!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So refreshing! A straight ahead pop song, well performed, well produced, evoking both nostalgia and contemporary references without trying too hard.
    It isn’t the most novel song, but it a cool glass of water on a hot summer day.

    Liked by 1 person

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