R.I.P. K-Pop’s UNIVERSE App (2021-2023)

UniverseUpon the announcement of its official closure, I joked about owing K-pop’s Universe app a proper obituary. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I really do need to document the demise of this longstanding frenemy.

During its brief existence, Universe promised creepy AI-generated idol interactions (or so I’m told). But more germane to this blog, it churned out over two dozen original songs and accompanying music videos. The catch – at least during the first slate of releases – was that you had to download the app to enjoy the full music video. Coupled with an almost-universally uninspired slew of music, this pay-to-play functionality became increasingly annoying.

So, I started to have some fun with these Universe releases. What began as typical Bias List reviews soon devolved into parodies – each wilder and more elaborate than the last. We had poetry, puzzles, codes, arcade games, mad libs, etc.

Of course, this joke ended up backfiring on me because I felt the need to one-up myself each time these frustratingly frequent Universe tracks emerged. So it’s with a sigh of relief that I celebrate the app’s brief but memorable life.

Join me for a look back at the good, bad and ugly of Universe-related track reviews over the past two years:

Things started out normally…

1. IZ*ONE – D-D-Dance

2. Park Jihoon – Call U Up (ft. Lee Hi)

3. (G)I-DLE – Last Dance

4. Kang Daniel – Outerspace (ft. Loco)

5. AB6IX – Gemini

6. CIX – Tesseract

7. The Boyz – Drink It

8. Monsta X – Kiss or Death

9. Astro – Alive

10. WJSN – Let Me In

Then, it got weird…

11. WEi – Starry Night (poetry)

12. DRIPPIN – Vertigo (mirrored puzzle)

13. Oh My Girl – Shark (carnival game)

14. SF9 – Savior (word search)

15. ATEEZ – Don’t Stop (mad lib)

16. Kwon Eunbi – Esper (gifs)

17. Ha Sungwoon – La La Pop! (audio reactions)

18. Kang Daniel – Ready to Ride (build-a-review)

19. CRAVITY – Vivid (creative writing)

20. The Boyz – Sweet (recipe)

21. Monsta X – If with U (“if with” guide)

22. Astro – U&Iverse (crossword puzzle)

23. Jo Yuri – Maybe (other “maybe” songs)

24. Wonho – Don’t Hesitate (hangman)

25. Kep1er – Sugar Rush (song parody)

26. VIVIZ – Rum Pum Pum (“rum-pum-pum” puzzle)

As we turn the page on this regrettable era, I’ll leave you pondering these burning questions: What’s your favorite Universe track? And on the flip side, what’s your favorite Bias List review of a Universe track?

I won’t comment on the reviews, but favorite song is probably Wonho’s Don’t Hesitate.

The Boyz’ Drink It, WJSN’s Let Me In and CIX’s Tesseract are also contenders.


22 thoughts on “R.I.P. K-Pop’s UNIVERSE App (2021-2023)

  1. I’m definitely going to miss the one-upmanship you had to play with yourself every time a new song dropped on the app. Are there any leftover ideas you won’t be using now that it’s gone?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’m going to miss your reviews more than the damn app or those songs lol.

    As for my favorites I guess Drink It, Kiss or Death, Tesseract, and maybe Savior and Don’t Hesitate probably.

    As for the reviews – I liked the Ateez one. And the TBZ recipe lol. Honestly Nick, you put quite some effort into the review games! If only those songs were as half as creative as the stuff you came up with! 🙃

    Liked by 4 people

  3. The Universe app was ass as fuck but it gave me more Weki Meki content (reality shows, photoshoots, festival slot) last year than Fantagio ever did so I’ll be grateful for that. Even if they royally fucked up their intro in their festival slot.

    (Unrelated but ReacttotheK recently posted an interview with Drippin, TAK, and Corbin that I think you’d like)


  4. Glad the reviews will live on though the app dies because they were a ton of fun. I’ll miss them, heh. The madlibs and build-a-reviews were both riots, and I’m a sucker for good gif reactions, but the recipe review on The Boyz got the biggest laugh out of me.

    I haven’t listened to all of these songs yet (or even half of them), but of the ones I have listened to I think ‘Drink It’ comes out on top.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A limerick requiem from me:

    What can we say that is unsaid
    What prayer at terce for Universe
    A verse for the worse
    A dread thread to be read
    A hearse to its deathbed accursed

    Also, The Boyz “Drink It” for the win.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. and if i say tbzs sweet ate everything else that came from that app up……

    is it the greatest song ive ever heard? no. but is it smthn fresh? smthn fun? smthn for the summertime? absolutely!

    (seriously how tf they didnt choose this for be awares tt is beyond me. also the mv is fantastic)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I learned to really love Sweet by TBZ. I think Wonho, CIX, Cravity, and TBZ’s Drink It were my faves. A haiku dedicated to the work:

    Such a thankless task
    Ungrateful app with meh songs
    Thank you for the laughs

    Liked by 1 person

  8. THE BOYZ’s ‘Sweet’ and ‘Drink It’ were some really solid releases that should have been promoted more. CIX’s ‘Tesseract’ was great. It had such a good chorus. Jo Yuri’s ‘Maybe’ was fantastic but out of all of these, WJSN’s ‘Let Me In’ was probably my favourite.

    For reviews, I really liked your THE BOYZ recipe review as well as OH MY GIRL’s shark game.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Favorite song is probably “Don’t Hesitate” or “Rum Pum Pum”, but I have not heard that many Universe songs.

    Favorite reviews were the “Starry Night” because it was the first crazy one, “Sweet” for its creativity, “Esper” for its “yeahhhh Nick is an old man” vibes, and “Shark” just because I think it’s inherently memetastic (and Nick’s sheer bewilderment at the song itself.) I have friends who never listen to kpop but still shout “chiki chika chu” to me.


  10. IZ*ONE’s ddance and Cravity’s VIVID are really good, and would rank within my top 150 K-pop songs of their respective years.

    The best review is a tie between Kep1er and Ha Sungwoon.


  11. I definitely think D-D-Dance and Don’t Hesitate were both very incredible songs that easily could’ve functioned as title tracks for their artists and while I didn’t love everything the app gave us I do appreciate it being a creative outlet of sorts for the companies and their idols. Thanks for the memories universe app!


  12. favorite review: wei starry night. it’s glorious.

    favorite song: wjsn let me in. no idea what i like about it, but play counts don’t lie.

    the app ran its run,
    the reviews were fun,
    most songs i would just ignore.
    i’ll miss the reviews much more.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. My favorite Universe songs were Let Me In, Drink It, Sweet (both better than most TBZ titles the last few years), Don’t Stop & Esper which I think was really underrated. I’m gonna miss the fun shitpost Universe reviews, like the Shark game was fun and the poem for Wei was hilarious. The only time I ever had the app was to vote for Girls Planet, so thankfully we won’t have to do that for Boys Planet (unless they come up with another weird ass voting method)

    Liked by 1 person

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