[Review] Upside Down – Kang Daniel

Also returning this week is Kang Daniel. It has been almost three years since the solo artist made his solo debut (and five years since he made his official solo debut as part of the Wanna One lineup). Yet, it was only on Tuesday that Kang Daniel release his first solo studio-length album titled The Story, which features the title track Upside Down. This is his first solo comeback since the release of Antidote. Since then, he has been quite busy. He has released a string of singles and collaborated with a number of artists. He has also made his acting debut, was a MC for Street Woman Fighter and Street Dance Girls Fighter, and also reunited with his fellow Wanna One members for the release of Beautiful (Part 3) and a special performance at the 2021 MAMAs.

For me, Upside Down had boring verses. I am not a big fan of the metallic percussion that features heavily during the verses (nor when it re-emerged throughout the song). Kang Daniel’s vocals felt sluggish. When you pair the likes of the metallic percussion and vocals, everything felt overly airy and empty, which isn’t a great first impression for the first verse. However, the saying ‘not to judge a book by its cover’ applies to Upside Down. As I stuck around for more of Upside Down, it got better thanks to the chorus. Said chorus is not striking, energetic or dynamic. Instead, the chorus built on those boring verses (allowing Upside Down to be percieved as more cohesive) and created a relatively livelier atmosphere by the addition of softened synths punches, heavier bass and a more filled out instrumental. Kang Daniel’s vocals should have also built a bit to stand out over this relatively amped up instrumental, as I felt he was almost on the verge of being drowned out. But he did enough to be still be heard, so I guess it was fine. Compared to the verses, the chorus was more satisfying. Upside Down‘s bridge provided an even moodier atmosphere, thanks the to the presence of that elongated bass and squeaky synth. I liked how it worked well with the chorus of the song. The small sequence of the vocals we do get in the bridge was paired with strumming electric guitar, before we are taken back to the chorus for one final time. Kang Daniel’s ad-libs throughout the final chorus was probably his most impressive vocal effort in the entirety of Upside Down. Overall, Upside Down receives a mixed response from me. It is good in some parts, but bland in others.

I quite like the video. His visuals are very strong and he looks good throughout the video in his casual wear. But for me, it is the editing for this video that takes the cake for me. The way the video portrays the upside down world that Kang Daniel refers to in his lyrics are shown by Kang Daniel dancing on the side of the building (though I suspect this would have been possible thanks to a crane) and also underneath the roof of a theatre’s entrance. I also like the alternating day and night scenes at the start of the video. The camera work also helped make the video feel more dynamic, especially during the final chorus.

I liked the inclusive feel of the choreography and the chemistry in which Kang Daniel shares with his fellow dancers on stage. As for the individual moves, they just weren’t memorable. But they did fit in with the lowkey vibes of the song. I also did like how he incorporated the start of the music video with the start of the choreography. The impressive part has to be when Kang Daniel pulls out his b-boying experience for the bridge, which I personally thought was super cool to watch.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7.5/10
Overall Rating – 7.4/10

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