Song Review: Yena – Love War (ft. BE’O)

Yena - Love War (ft. BE'O)Yuehua Entertainment has become known for drastic concept shifts. Both Everglow and Tempest have made major sonic u-turns between comebacks, and now it’s time for soloist Yena to tackle something new. Obviously, it’s beneficial for artists to stretch the limits of their sound and evolve as their career goes on. But during a debut year, I think it’s best to firmly establish a signature concept that secures your fan base before pulling them along your musical journey.

For those who loved the glossy pop-rock energy of Smiley and Smartphone, the muted Love War will come as a shock. There’s a world where a drastic energy shift pays off for Yena, but she needed a more memorable song to do it. Love War is well-performed and features the buzzy BE’O as guest rapper, but it’s the kind of coffeehouse fare that tends to waft in one ear and out the other. Every time I’ve listened to it, my mind has wandered. That’s not a great sign!

There’s just no oomph to Love War. Even soft acoustic tracks can compel you with emotion or dynamic song construction. This song plays like a flat line all the way through, finding its subdued vibe and sticking with it even as the performers attempt to break up the monotony. BE’O’s verse injects new flow and phrasing, but its not enough to spike interest. The chorus is a non-starter. It’s as if the producers wrote a single draft and stuck with it despite having better options.

Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7

Grade: C-


10 thoughts on “Song Review: Yena – Love War (ft. BE’O)

  1. I swore outloud, in multiple languages.
    Why can’t they just leave it alone? What happened to the infinitely perfect and perky “Smile smile smile all day”? Oh no, now we get the moody shit, the watered-down kpop-style R&B sans actual passion. “Coffee House” pfft, overpriced oversugared coffee with double pumps to make it palatable.

    Where is my Bae~ to swear copiously for us all. Bae~ save me!

    Moving on. I will go listen to actual R&B, passionate R&B with soul and heart and meaning. Here, this is a good one for the MLK holiday today.
    Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On”

    Liked by 3 people


    I thought Yuehwa would develop Yena’s rock sound, given her attempts in the Smartphone album. Seemed I was wrong, nvm. Well at least, give us the ‘smile smile smile all day’! I mean, at least that’s cheerful, isn’t it?

    The groove is the only part I liked about this song. A pretty forgettable song nonetheless.
    (p.s. I liked the instrumental of the Intro more than Love War)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I agree with this – quite a subdued and rather forgetful affair. Though I would say I liked the mixing and their voices in this – as in the quality of the sound is something I can appreciate. I loved Smiley so much and I wish if they had wanted to go for a moodier concept they could have added some oomph.

    Kinda like how Bibi’s Animal farm grew on me- not a song you’ll probably catch on the first listen – but the melody is haunting and there’s a chance it will stick long after the song’s over.

    I liked BE’O’s rap verse here though. It was pretty nice!


  4. You were right. I was incredibly surprised at the contrast between this and her previous releases. The song’s fine but it’s too tame. Yena’s voice was too quiet and it didn’t help the already quiet rnb instrumental. With more rock elements, this song could have been so much better. I’ll still listen to it but it’s unfortunate that it’s not as good as it could have been.

    The song sounds more like something that would be the last song in an ep of any Kpop group. The typical ballad / quiet / subdued song every Kpop group includes in their albums.


  5. Based off all the teasers I REALLY hoped this would take the rock sound of Lxxk to U and WithorWithout and make it a title track, I think Yena’s voice suits a rock genre so well. So I was pretty disappointed by this! If it had been a bside I would’ve found it nice and chill and groovy but as a title track after the excellent one-two punch of Smiley and Smartphone I’m a bit let down. Hopefully she doubles down on a rock sound or continues her bright and kitschy pop trademark for the next comeback!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Seeing the thumbnail of the video I new we were getting something different. Not this kind of different though lol. It’s a nice groove but after the chorus just meandered for a few seconds I was completely pulled out by the guest rapper, I’m sure he has good material out there but I didn’t like his verse at all here. Honestly, I stopped paying attention afterwards and I’m not gonna listen to it again. Video looked nice, yena pulls that vibe off pretty well, but I always figured she had versatile charm


  7. It’s interesting to me how much this style really resonates with the Korean general public whereas Western audiences want those pop-punk vibes.
    I feel like so many female k-pop soloists go for an “IU Palette era” sound and this definitely goes in that direction.
    I have a feeling this might go on to be a very popular song for Yena, but I don’t have much to say about it. I can enjoy this sound and there’s nothing I actively dislike about the song or its performance. But I too would like those pop-punk vibes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I welcome concept shifts but there just isn’t much for her to sell.

    The tone of the MV conjures and alternate universe where Yena tackles an edgy dancefloor sound with dramatic string flourishes, à la Sistar’s Give It To Me. I’d love to hear that.


  9. It’s kind of a weird disappointment to be honest. Yena’s style of fun with capital F Kpop was refreshing and wasn’t just bad girl girl crush moodiness (she even has the “wounds” I’m seeing so much in moody boy groups lately).


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