Song Review: Yena – Smartphone

Yena - SmartphoneYena got her solo career off to a rousing start with the peppy pop-rock of January’s Smiley. That song proved impossible to resist, buoyed by an optimistic energy and sugary chorus. For follow-up album Smartphone, she wisely maintains the formula, carving a satisfying niche that sets her apart from other post-Produce soloists.

Smartphone tweaks the formula ever so slightly, heightening the guitars while simultaneously elevating the quirky energy. As a song, it doesn’t work for me the way that Smiley did, but that’s certainly not due to Yena herself. She brings a ton of energy to the track. Her vocal weaves between the shifts in production, unleashing a performance that feels like several distinct characters. Unfortunately, I don’t think the song backs her up in the way it needs to.

First off, Smartphone is nowhere near as catchy as Smiley. Music of this genre almost requires incessant catchiness to succeed. Its chorus is an odd mélange of pop/rock hooks and sing-talk asides that feel more in keeping with this new generation of K-pop. Similarly, Smartphone’s instrumental throws a ton of elements into the blender without leaning heavily into one specific theme. The production feels fearful that, without constantly swerving here and there, listeners will lose interest. On its own, Yena’s charisma is more than enough to anchor a potent, straightforward pop track. Smartphone is fluffy fun, but would do well to embrace its most dynamic elements and focus on the obvious star power at its core.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 7.75

21 thoughts on “Song Review: Yena – Smartphone

  1. I really loved her January debut. However, I don’t think I’m gonna connect with this one. It is all surrounded by some kind of…erm…awkwardness. I just can’t get over the fact that the song doesn’t know what it wants to be and is stuck between EDM and pop rock, which makes it feel quite forgettable. Worse yet, the entire track sounds almost identical to Smiley. Rating is about right.


  2. Long time lurker, first time poster :p

    Expected more from the teasers but luckily we got WithOrWithOut (which for me hit the genre better than what Smartphone was going for, and was the one I was looking for the most anyways) and Lemon-Aid.

    I liked it but took me a few listens to ease into it

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love love love LOVE Smiley, don’t vibe with this. It’s a bit too bratty for my liking. Nothing against Yena I feel like she could sell me a car even though I don’t drive, but the music just does not do her any favours, it’s too unfocused.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Please tell me this is a CF in disguise. Is that the Booberry cereal character?

    Yena deserves some plaudits for carrying what sounds like a full group song all by herself. Otherwise it sounds like “Smile” part 2. It might even be in the same key (I am not clever or interested enough to figure that out).

    Pfft who am I kidding, a classic case of overthinking it! This songs makes me smile part two in a stupid happy clappy way.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “nowhere near as catchy as Smiley” I beg to differ, cuz “PUSH! SWIPE!” is living in my head rent free. A worthy successor, and in my opinion slightly better than Smiley.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Am I the only one who likes it? I love the catchiness “push, swipe”. Maybe it is because I watched the teaser beforehand, but It really caught my attention. Even though it may sound cheesy, it reminds me of the 2000s- late 2010s k-pop. K-pop doesn’t have enough cheesy, weird,cute songs these days.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. we all had high expectations after smiley and smartphone is just one little step behind tbh. I love the catchiness in the song and the feel good vibe it gives.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This song is so catchy! But as others already said, it’s a bit more generic sounding than Smiley. Bless her company for keeping her pop-rock happy sound, it really helps her stand out amongst other female soloists.


  9. I definitely liked smiley more. BUT THIS SONG has done its job, its a worthy successor. I have to admit I REALLY LIKE THE CHORUS AND ITS GOING ON MY PLAYLIST FOR SUREEEEEEEEEE
    while for smiley, its 9/10


  10. The MV is more fun and enjoyable than the song itself. I don’t really enjoy the sing-talk parts either. It’s a 5/10 for me.


  11. honestly feel like the goalposts change positions wayyyy too much for this blog. we were begging for songs with actual choruses a year ago and when we do get one which fits the criteria for a good song, it’s being criticized for “shifts in production”? in my eyes smartphone is at least an 8/10! sure it’s not as good as smiley but it’s still a very solid song its own right


  12. This is one where it feels like you sat in on the creative direction meeting for it and can tell where they dropped the ball. I can see why they chose to follow up Smiley with a song like this, I just think they really misread what people liked about her debut. Instead of going into a (slightly more) grungy direction like they did with fan favorite Lxxk to You, this picked up on the more childish aspects of Smiley and doubled down on them (this feels very much like ITZY’s sneakers). It’s also an error that seems to crop up when an agency misreads whether people liked the visual and art direction of a comeback or the sonic direction. Smiley felt safe-ish but fun, which is pretty great for a debut, and it also seemed to hint that Yena was carving out her own sound and willing to take a risk, that along with the quality of the EP made me excited for her future releases. Having a follow up that feels like someone polished out whatever edge was in the previous release and repackaged it in super safe form is the ultimate disappointment for me.


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