Song Review: CSR – Shining Bright

CSR - Shining BrightIn a sea of too-cool-for-school NewJeans clones and don’t-mess-with-us girl crush fare, CSR stand out as a bright, bubbly representative of K-pop’s past. Their debut album last summer was a wonderful surprise, painting them as this generation’s answer to GFriend or Lovelyz.

The group have more-or-less continued along that path, yet haven’t matched the power of early highlights like Pop? Pop! and Euratcha. New single Shining Bright (빛을 따라서) takes a rockier approach – think SNSD’s Way To Go as heard through a One Piece opening theme. This is catnip to my ears, yet I struggle to fully embrace the single as much as I’d like to.

CSR’s producers replicate this style with aplomb. The sugary stabs that open the track immediately pull us in and the driving instrumental never lets up. But as far as I can tell, CSR don’t have a Yuju or Kei/Sujeong amongst their ranks to balance out the members’ brighter tones. This means it’s all sugar, all the time — without the robust power notes that make a song like this sparkle. Because of this, Shining Bright feels more like a fun, frothy OST than a powerful legend-in-the-making. That won’t stop me playing and enjoying it, but I can’t help but wish for more — especially since this style is so rare nowadays.

Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8

Grade: B


26 thoughts on “Song Review: CSR – Shining Bright

  1. Relentlessly chirpy.

    … to be perfectly truthful, there are times when I listen to a pumped up song like this and I wonder if they are all on crack. Nick uses the words “all sugar, all the time”, which is more polite version of what I am thinking.

    Also sounds a bit like a girl group version of this oldie “Fly” from SuJu KRY, featuring live live singing. Very OST Up with people style.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. 3 things I liked:
    1) Clean production, though not the biggest fan of Sua’s autotune
    2) Melancholic melody, which sounded pretty warm and safe
    3) Lyrics. I’m a sucker for lyrics about motivation

    Not a big fan of the song as a whole. It sounded pretty generic tbh. If this is released 3-4 years ago I believe no one will be noticing this.

    What a pity for believing CSR to be the next GFRIEND. Yes they’re still in their debut years, but I don’t hear anything amazing except Pop? Pop!.

    Album is safe, having songs with a similar color and style. This is actually more reminiscent of Apink than GFRIEND- pretty straightforward lush, warm signature that sounds uninnovative over repeated playbacks. Yet I guess this is the key to retain their fans. Guess this is another way out for CSR.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. maybe in order for the song to sound more anime opening-ish, the members would have to sing in unison during the chorus.

    like speaking of one piece, i was listening to kokoro no chizu (op 5, my favorite so far) and i loved how all the members just sang in unison to buttress the chorus, and if csr were to do this style (they already did in pop pop and euratcha), shining bright would be much BIGGER

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, I don’t know why kpop doesn’t do this more often – unison choruses. It is so common in Jpop, every single AKB__ style release, lots of anime. It fleshes out the chorus lines with all the timbres, more than just doubling or tripling up the same singer and adding melodyne chords of that same singer on top as is common these days.

      Super Junior do this all the time, with a slight bias of one singer towards the front of the mix, but the rest of the voices are in there too. It is how they survived a decade of military service, because the chorus is sung by the chorus. It is part of the signaling for ELF that SuJu is about being a group, a team, to expect that the lines get switched up all the time, and not this line is so-and-so’s and that line is so-and-so’s and no one else can sing it.

      Liked by 4 people

    • Kokoro no Chizu is FANTASTIC, and still one of One Piece’s best OPs in my opinion (though there are so many good ones).
      I agree that it would’ve worked well in this song too.


  4. It’s an upper 9 for me, not quite the heights of Pop? Pop! but damn close. As far as I can tell they seem to be the only gg consistently pumping out pacy melodic songs. Easily the standout gg single for me this year!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I very much agree with what Nick pointed out here- for this kind of song, there needs to be someone on the same level as Yuju/Kei to elevate the song to the heights it aims to reach. But because there is no one in the group who can belt like that, it feels like the song failed to reach its full potential. I don’t feel any initiative to play this like I have with their other two title tracks.

    I’ll give this a 7.75 I think.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s crazy how similar your thoughts were to mine on this. I thought of snsd’s “hahaha” and in the middle of the song “this would soar with a couple of yuju high notes”. I still really like it, but this might not be the last time we’re left yearning for a rich/full tone in their music. Part of me hopes one of the girls secretly can do it and is just waiting for the right time

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It sounds a lot like Lovelyz’s ‘The’ (Mijoo, Yein, Sujeong), (There’s another popular older song that it sounds like, but I don’t know its name and I’ve only ever heard covers) and a lot like Yena’s debut mini.

    Hard agree on them missing a power vocalist. The lack of a Yuju or even a BabySoul has been felt pretty keenly since debut.

    The comment about being an APink song seems about right; I want to like APink and nothing ever speaks to me. This song is good enough but overall disappointing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, it’s been almost 2 months since I said this.
      I originally was disappointed, but I listened to it for the first time in a while yesterday and I was surprised by how much I liked it.

      They’re missing a deeper vocal, but other than that, I think I was too harsh on them.


  8. That chorus melody is fantastic. It would be nice to have a Yuju vocal, but those don’t grow on trees.

    I predict this bumps up .25 or .5 in a future risers and fallers.


  9. Last year’s Loveticon grew on me a lot especially after a few Spotify listens and I think you pointed out the exact point which I felt too – how most of their voices lean towards the cute sweeter side. I feel it was this which stopped me from realising the full potential of their songs but after a few listens I can really appreciate their songs. Very JP like and very anime vibey – I do realise that most of them actually have sweet natural voices and it does fit their theme. Hopefully, maybe with time some of them will develop more stronger vocal tones as well…


  10. I was really hoping for another Sweetune-produced song like last year’s Euratcha. I wonder if we’ll get any Sweetune tunes this year? I’d be over the moon for more with RoaD-B.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I can never resist a good bottled-optimism anime opening song.
    This one too is great, I agree that it could do with a little more vocal ‘richness’ though.


  12. I hope people don’t put such a heavy burden on them just because they’re the only ones filling this space right now. Quite unfair


  13. I really really like them. They’re cute and fun and I’m a sucker for them. Its impossible for me to hear this and not feel happy.


  14. I love this song, but I couldn’t for the life of me understand why they would release a song like this on the k-pop scene.

    Then I saw the numerous showcases scheduled for Japan.

    They’re doing some half-J half-K release! Man is this a risky move 😐


  15. i’m a sucker for this jpop-leaning sound. it’s what drew me to gfriend in the first place, so i’m glad to have csr to keep this sound alive. i already really liked how shining bright sounded, and then someone compared it to snow halation by μ’s from the love live franchise and it made me love it even more. i’ve got a soft spot for that song; i think most people who are love live fans do, haha

    Liked by 1 person

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