Song Review: Nicole (Kara) – Mysterious

Nicole - MysteriousFresh off a successful group comeback, Kara’s Nicole is back with her own solo single. She’s become the most musically prolific of the group and holds a special place on my bias list because of her solo work with production team Sweetune (check out her 2016 J-pop album Bliss if you haven’t!). Unfortunately, all good things must end and – like everyone else in K-pop – she’s moved onto different producers.

Last years’ YOU.F.O was a fun – if slightly generic – dance track. New single Mysterious follows a similar path, even if its overall sound is different. There’s nothing bad I can say about the song except that I’ve grown tired of title tracks that pull back for a groovy, beat-forward chorus. This probably says more about my musical taste than it does about Mysterious. Even its more derivative moments are delivered with flair.

My favorite element of the track is the pulsing beat that underlines its verses. This production gives me strong early-00’s vibes in a way I didn’t even know I missed. I appreciate the driving energy and the way Nicole’s vocals set up a call-and-response structure that allows her to display a variety of tones and textures. If the entire track had kept this energy going, I’d probably be more excited about it. Instead, Mysterious swerves here and there, diving into languid breakdowns. Every moment is satisfying in its own way, but I find myself wishing for a taut arrangement that delivers a greater sense of climax.

Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8

Grade: B-


7 thoughts on “Song Review: Nicole (Kara) – Mysterious

  1. It’s definitely not sth new, but it’s still an appealing piece with its ‘mysterious’ vibe. Could do a bit more with the groove, its still fine on its own though. 7.5-8.0 for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Always great to see Nicole putting out music. I too was waiting for the chorus to explode into a big Kara-esque musical moment, and was let down by the pull back. But it seems like her concept is slinky sexy here to I suppose it makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it is a solid leading lady song, solidly produced and performed. A bit generic, because it could also have been leading girl group material in almost any language on any continent. All the vocal harmonization going on is nice to hear.

    Speaking of leading ladies, where the hell did Sunmi and Chungha go?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I appreciate the beat in the verses and really, really don’t like the instrumental switch for the first part of the chorus. This one goes in the ‘fine’ category for me, but it’s not strong enough for me to go out of my way to download.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Here’s my thing with choruses like thi: I think they could be used to exciting effect if used sparingly and not on each chorus. The first time I heard it I thought “okay, been a while since I heard a song do this” and I appreciated the extra snare(?)clap(?) that comes in. But by the second chorus I was already over it and wish they changed it.

    Nicole has always been my number 1 or 2 when it comes to Kara and I really enjoy seeing her when I can, but I don’t understand what the issue is with sweetune lol

    Important to note that I’m hella sick 🤢 so maybe I can’t even hear the track properly 😂 (they need a laughing emoji where the emoji is still sick)

    Liked by 2 people

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