Rounding out the week and the month is ITZY with their latest comeback single, M.A.F.I.A (In The Morning). This new title track is featured on their fourth mini-album. Guess Who?. Well, the answer to that question is ITZY, and it is a suitable question given that it has been a while since we have heard from the group. This is their first comeback since Not Shy in August of last year. Since that last comeback and a month (to the date) before this comeback, ITZY did release a digital single for their fans, titled Trust Me (MIDZY). But that had no music video, so I skipped over it. And so, we find ourselves here today for the review for M.A.F.I.A.
My first impression of M.A.F.I.A is quite simple – it appears ITZY’s direction for this song follows the big and bold nature of BLACKPINK and not of their own. Personally, I felt disappointed by this. Both are great groups and both have their individual styles. BLACKPINK has this more bombastic and dark energy with their recent releases (i.e. Kill This Love and How You Like That). ITZY differentiates as their music has this energetic colour and vibrancy, which makes their songs quite appealing in its own way (i.e. Wannabe and ICY). I just wished they didn’t tap into each other’s current niche. BLACKPINK, more recently, have not crossed the line. But it is clear with M.A.F.I.A, ITZY have. And I will mention it now, M.A.F.I.A is more of a cheap knock-off than a successful replication. One of the few positives of the song is that there was a good showcase of rapping skills in the song. But that all comes after a spoken syllable-by-syllable delivery that sounded undeniably very BLACKPINK-esquee, courtesy of Ryujin. While the rest of the rapping skills were good, I wished their lines didn’t feel weighed down and boring. It was probably a stylistic choice to fit in the suspenseful and mysterious vibes of the instrumentation, which features that paced and squeaky synth. But it was a choice that really didn’t appeal to my taste. The vocals that followed in the pre-chorus were actually also quite good. It gave the song that stability it needed and added in a splash of needed colour. And I was glad we got some colour into the song in the pre-chorus, as the chorus didn’t really give much of it. Instrumentally, it just felt like an extension of the instrumentation we got in the verses, and the chorus’ hooks were pretty plain and unimaginative. I can see it catching on briefly, but it will probably be forgotten soon after. The second verse was more less the same as the first verse. And well, the rest of the song felt more less the same as the first verse and chorus. Another let-down of M.A.F.I.A is the song lacks a peak. While I think Lia’s bridge was a nice touch to the song melodic-wise, it doesn’t feel in anyway different to the pre-choruses earlier in the song. While you expect her to hit a high note at the end of the bridge, she doesn’t. The instrumental doesn’t build up to the final chorus either. We aren’t pushed into an amplifed mix, nor are we given something to help to make it a memorable closer to the song (or even signal the end of the song is approaching). Overall, M.A.F.I.A is a very flat release that doesn’t live up to the ITZY style that I have associated with the group.
A music video acually comes off a lot better than the song itself. Despite the dark aura and the obvious black and purple colour choices that seems to bring out that ‘influence’ as I mentioned in the above paragraph, I feel that the music video does a good job of showing off that confident side to the group. This is a running theme in their music videos and I am glad they managed to link this video to their past comebacks. I also thought the editing in this video was also a strong positive aspect. But that is all pretty standard. It is that memorability factor that I am looking for, and there doesn’t seem to be much in the video. I guess the opening scene where we are looking from inside the gun barrell at Ryujin in her full red outfit was pretty intriguing. But nothing else really pinged as memorable for me.
The choreography is probably the only stable factor in this entire comeback. The confidence really comes off strongly in the routine, and I also liked the added sexiness that the group brings to the table with this routine.
Song – 5/10
Music Video – 6.5/10
Performance – 7.5/10
Overall Rating – 6/10