For over a year now, ex-Bigstar member Kim Rae Hwan has been making quality, synth-flavored pop music on the periphery of the K-pop industry under the moniker from20. You’d be forgiven for not knowing who he is. Idol activity tends to swallow up all of K-pop’s media attention – especially for international listeners. In fact, I hadn’t really dug into his work until a couple Bias List readers recommended it. Now, you have my recommendation to add to the stack!
New single Chemical will appeal to those who loved iKON’s But You earlier this year. Both are melodic pop songs with a driving synth beat, and both build to a cathartic chorus fueled by emotion. In Chemical’s case, there are actually two big hooks. The chorus opens with a soaring refrain. The key raises and the melody stretches to deliver an affecting centerpiece. This is followed by a more insistent post-chorus that sees from20 shouting the song’s title in frenzied repetition. These two pieces work well together, fusing naturally despite their contrasting nature. If I have a complaint, it’s that the song could do with one more climactic repetition of this hook.
K-pop has offered many synth-heavy tracks over the past few years, but most seem contained to the work of soloists or acts who could be considered more “indie.” I’m not sure why a song like this hasn’t quite made its way into mainstream idol comebacks, but it’s a shame. There’s so much drama to be wrung from the sound of Chemical. With any luck, the song will introduce more fans to from20’s undeniable charm and remind the industry there is still plenty of life to this genre.
Ahh I’m so happy you got around to reviewing a from20 song, Nick! He’s got a great ear for melody 🙂
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Oh, yay, a from20 review! I’m not usually one who cares much about metrics, but honestly, the view counts on his videos are way too low for the quality of his output! Both “Weol” and “Because it’ll be faster…” have been two of my favorite releases of their respective years, and this new song “Chemical” is another great addition to the list!
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I have a different opinion. I don’t think the two parts work together. There are parts of this which are quite lovely. Then the song sabotages itself with a few bad choices. I mean up to about 1:10 it is great, ignoring the crappy rhyming. And then chemical chemical chemical. Whyeeee? And once I start picking it apart in my mind after that, the super casual English lyrics sans rhyme just make the song a yeah nah. Then the song just ends, like it ran out of ideas so just end it.
I’ve enjoyed “Weol”, but this one is a pass for me.
I LIKE THIS
I LIKE THIS A LOT
That is all.
What a stunner. This song is amazing
Yes this is for me. Usually Nick’s synthpop suggestions are right up my alley. I checked out his two other songs, BIBFFYTFMTMLY and WEOL and I also enjoyed them.
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I love how the acronym for from20’s longest name song is still long.
I giggled seeing BIBFFYTFMTMLY for the first time 😂
I wasn’t sold on Yeol, but this one I like a lot.
I’ve really enjoyed his past releases, and I like this a lot too!