[Review] What If Love – UP10TION

I completely apologise for how long it has taken me to review What If Love. The single was released as part of their 11th mini-album Code Name: Arrow in November 2022. This comeback ended up shaping to be a big one for what happened after its release. What If Love now serves as the group’s last release under TOP Media. The current 7 member lineup of UP10TION (including Hwanhee and Xiao who participated in the recent Boys Planet survival series) chose not to renew their contract with TOP Media (thus leaving the agency they have been with since debut). They aren’t disbanding, confirming their intention to stay as a group. It also been confirmed that Jinhoo (who went on hiatus back in 2020) and long term absent members Kim Woo Seok and Lee Jin Hyuk have left the group. And it has been announced that Kuhn and Kogyeol were to enlist into the military. Quite an eventful 2023 already for UP10TION, who usually flies under the radar.

To me, What If Love is a decent dance pop track. The bass gives an alluring appeal, while the rest of the instrumentation has groovy influences that comes together to give off a darker and classier atmosphere. Both the bass and wider instrumentation contribute to a sleek profile. However, I wanted something more to the instrumentation to spark some interest. Aside from what I mentioned, it is pretty lackluster and plays it safe for majority of the song. We do hear some detailing in the instrumental (like the whistle), but it wasn’t anything strong. What If Love does benefits from some nice vocals and rapping. I felt the vocal line in this song worked with the mature vibes and brought an appreciable smoothness to the song. The breathiness the vocals brings during certain moments of What If Love also adds to the maturity profile of the song. This adds to the sleekness of the track. The deeper tones that the rappers brought to What If Love is a nice textural change and gives us a bit of a reprieve from ultra smoothness that What If Love pushes on the listener. I also feel like the deeper tone emphasise the funky undertones of the song. While there were some nice melodic moments throughout What If Love, I did think the hooks were weak. We do get breathy “What If Love” repetition as part of the choruses, but due to its deliver it isn’t much of a prominent hook. Had What If Love had stronger hooks and something that gives the instrumental a bit more zing, maybe I would have reviewed What If Love sooner.

What If Love is about “the temptation to win the heart of one’s love of fate while aiming for the one and only chance, which can be missed in a fleeting moment” (taken from SOOMPI). When you watch the video, it has a bit of a spy/detective concept to it. Personally, I am not exactly sure of the connection between the meaning and what we see. But my best guess is that the members are searching for that “fleeting moment”. Aside from that, I did like the darker aesthetic present in this video, which matches with the mature profile of the song. The members also look fantastic throughout the video in their outfits.

I feel like the choreography hits the mark in some parts, but completely misses it in others. The song calls for a sleek routine, but I felt it was a touch too powerful during the choruses. We do get some “slow” moments, which were the most fitting.  If they somehow softened the energy behind some of the other moves, we would see something that is aligned with the choreography.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 6/10
Overall Rating – 6.8/10


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