[Review] Control – GHOST9

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Returning yesterday was GHOST9, with their title track Control and fifth mini-album Now: Who We Are Facing. This is the group’s third comeback of the year, following the releases of SEOUL in March and Up All Night June of this year. This is also the group’s first comeback as a seven member group, following the sudden departures of members Hwang Dongjun and Lee Taeseung.

Despite such a promising and interesting start to the song, GHOST9’s Control ended up developing into a pretty generic and tasteless song. I hate to be crude, but I just didn’t get much out of Control. I saw the start of Control as very intriguing, thanks to the Erlkönig sample that the producers opted to use. It isn’t the first time we have heard dramatic piano work in a KPOP song, but its presence in this song promised potential and definitely could have been a start to a theatrical or dramatic song. I liked how they kept the vibe throughout the first verse, backed up with some powerful rapping and melodic vocals in the pre-chorus. However, once we get to Control‘s chorus, the song just felt flat. They kept the same elements as the verses (which I was on board with), but the song failed to really build on it. We get the slightest amount of bolstering possible for the chorus, but it was not nearly as satisfying as I had expected. Control could have gone for a harder and bolder feel to be memorable and impactful. But it just didn’t work out. Similarly, the rest of Control then felt like a repeat of what we heard at the start, and didn’t offer anything more. I didn’t feel like a peak was reached, nor was there any considerable development in the instrumentation, vocals, rapping etc. So why I do I feel this way about Control? I partly blame this on the trap-based instrumentation that paired with the piano throughout the song. I gave it the benefit of the doubt at the start, but it became tiresome and dry very quickly. But it isn’t just the instrumentation. There were other opportunities for the song to be bolster or develop that Control didn’t really grasp. The vocals and rapping had hints of aggression throughout the song which I tend to like. But in this song, they never really amounted to anything substantial. The melodies, especially the what should have been the centerpiece, was lackluster. Unfortunately, whatever potential Control had at the start was lost, and so ultimately Control just felt plain and underwhelming in the end.

I find the rest of the comeback to be much more promising than the song. The music video opted for a dark concept and a twist that I thought was rather clever. We see the members confined and trapped by a masked individual, who seems to have the members under its control (i.e. the masked individual was the dominating presence). And while the members are shown as victims throughout majority of the video, the twist at the end was that the members were the ones in control the entire time and were the masked individual. This is an interesting play on the lyrics, which urged the listener to wake up from the ‘dark’ control to be with them. I guess we do get hints of this twist throughout the video, with the member at the start waking up by the word ‘maestro’ written on the ground, and that very disturbing smile from another member from one of the group scenes (see feature image for that smile).

The performance was actually quite good. I liked the ripple effect they paired with the piano at the start of the song. I also liked the start of the final chorus, where the members formed themselves into two groups and pulled themselves into one. There were so some really great synchronized moments, and also some more calming moments in the choreography as well.

Song – 5.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance -8.5/10
Overall Rating – 6.9/10

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