Next up on the reviewing block is probably my favourite release from Monday. That title goes to YENA’s solo debut track, SMILEY, which also features soloist BIBI. The track is featured on YENA’s first solo mini-album, which shares the same name as the title track with a cute smiley face preceding it (ˣ‿ˣ (SMiLEY)). For those who don’t know YENA, you might better recognize her with her full name, Choi Yena, and she is one of the former IZ*ONE members to recently make their debut. She does so from under Yuehua Entertainment, which is home to EVERGLOW and WOODZ. She is also known for being Choi Sungmin’s (former member of SPEED and COED School) sister.
SMILEY (the song) does exactly what the title says. It made me smile and I can’t seem to get it out of my head. The amount of times I have revisited the song over the last few days since its release may suggest a bit of an obsession towards the song. I have no regrets and I can’t help it that I am totally loving it. There is so much to point out, despite it being a relatively simple track. SMILEY steers down the pop rock sound, with an energetic and upbeat instrumentation that brings forth a nostalgic vibe of the 2000s pop rock. YENA’s vocals were perfectly executed throughout the song, adding sweetness, cuteness (to give SMILEY a bubble-gum tinge to the track) and is such a great carrier of the melodies and hooks within SMILEY. The pairing of both vocals and instrumentation just makes me want to get up and dance (like the guy in the video) and it is quite infectious. I also like the autotuned pre-chorus, which acts like a mini momentum builder to the chorus and helps makes the centerpiece more explosive. BIBI’s featuring in the song is quite interesting as it offsets YENA. But at no point does BIBI overshadows YENA, and the edginess that BIBI brings to SMILEY helps balances out the song to prevent it from becoming oversaturated in sweetness and cuteness. Personally, I don’t think that was going to be a problem (this time around), but I see where the BIBI’s featuring is coming from. It also helped that BIBI’s sequence also used a higher tone, which compliments YENA’s vocals. Another thing about SMILEY that I really enjoyed is the messaging behind the track, which simply says to keep on smiling. Overall, SMILEY is a fun, addictive and wholesome song that I just cannot get enough of.
I will be honest, the opening to the music video when I watched it for the first time was a bit cringy. While it does set up the music video and YENA’s character as this smiley superhero, it just felt a bit too much for me. Now, after watching the music video a few times, the cringy undertones aren’t really there anymore. Anyhow, YENA’s character is a superhero whose superpower is to spread smiles everywhere. She does so after helping a boy get a balloon off the roof of the building (an important detail). After she spreads her happiness in the diner, she leaves to spread her happiness in the darkest depths of the planet (the Shady, who conveniently lives in the snowiest and coldest place on Earth). BIBI arrives to spread her darkness around, but I think she ends up being more interested in helping YENA by sending some of her power to help YENA combat the cold by upgrading her outfit with a bit of BIBI’s own dark taste. Unfortunately, the cold is too much and YENA collapses. But we do see the SHADY becoming infected with YENA’s happiness and goes out to help her. It turns out SHADY was actually the little boy who appeared at the start of the video and repays YENA’s action by helping her out. So, YENA recovers, continues to spread her happiness around the world (and turns it into a rubber duck in the process), returns to the diner at the start of the video to just rock it out. A fun, cute and playful concept that I really enjoyed.
The performance makes my smile even wider with YENA’s cuteness dominating the performance. Just like the concept of the video, the performance was fun, playful and definitely energetic and bubbly as well. Very suitable for the song and its energy!
Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10