[Review] ICONS – Hot Issue

At the end of September, HOT ISSUE made their first comeback with ICONS. This follows their debut, GRATATA, from April earlier this year. For those who missed their debut, the female group is made up of seven members and are currently under S2 Entertainment.

HOT ISSUE tones down the aggression in ICONS, going with a generic hip-hop sound in this dance track. When I compare their debut and comeback tracks, I cannot help but think that ICONS felt more so like a step backward. It isn’t a massive set back for the group if I was being honest, but it doesn’t really show off much of the group or offer anything original to really talk about. I would say that the rapping and vocal delivery was quite solid throughout, with the pre-chorus being the most vivid part of ICONS for me. But the generic nature of the song doesn’t really help to emphasise that. When the chorus dawns, we are left with an overly generic and forgettable centrepiece that makes you question where the boldness from their debut track had gone. Obviously, I wished that the chorus was more dynamic, as that would have done wonders for ICONS. We do get a peek of some potential dynamism in the final chorus with the extra layer of instrumentation. While that could have benefited from some remoulding as well, I think it is what could have applied to the earlier choruses to give them that additional appeal. A stronger hook would also be helpful, as well, as the one we got was pretty generic and was not enticing.

For the music video, it is one of the many videos that you can watch it once and you can probably describe it reasonably well without ever returning to watch it again as a refresher. It is pretty generic is what I am trying to say, with the closeup and choreography adopted for this video. The sets didn’t offer much assistance in making this video cooler. The outfits were okay. They did bring forth a badass tone, but they aren’t the most stunning outfits ever.

I feel the boldest aspect of the comeback is the performance. While the verses also share the same generic description as the song and the video, the routine in the chorus felt like it went a bit harder than the rest, which I think is a positive outcome to have, at least somewhere in the midst of all the plainness.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 5/10
Performance – 6/10
Overall Rating – 5.2/10


Next up on reviewing block for this weekend’s focus on rookie groups is HOT ISSUE. For those who may have missed the debut of this group on 28 April 2021, HOT ISSUE is a seven member female group (consisting of Mayna, Nahyun, Hyeongshin, Dana, Yewon, Yebin, and Dain) under S2 Entertainment. They kicked off their careers off as a group with the single GRATATA, and the mini-album, Issue Maker. Previously, like many of the new groups I will be covering today and tomorrow, some of the members participated in trainee survival shows such as Produce 101 China and Cap-Teen. Other members were part of pre-debut groups.

I liked the aggressive nature of GRATATA. It is bold and intense, which is what I do enjoy when it comes to some songs. And I liked how it was aggressive throughout. And this aggression really helped to show off the rappers, who really showed off their skill set with their robust delivery. To offset the intensity and angry energy of the song, GRATATA opts to include vocal-centric pre-chorus. It gives the song a moment of piece, before GRATATA comes swinging again for the chorus. The vocals here are quite good. Just within the first verse, the members of HOT ISSUE have already established their skills and talents. And while the chorus has this bombastic feel (thanks to the pre-chorus), the lyrics are what I would consider to be the song’s misstep. The English that was used was extremely reliant on onomatopoeia and didn’t make much sense. While the chanty style and vibe that comes of the English is great, I cringed at its use. It is hard to take the song seriously following such a chorus. Following the second and final chorus was this heavy electronic instrumental sequence that I thought was a great distraction away from the chorus. It continued the same momentum of the chorus just that bit further and gave the song an even more dynamic touch. The bridge opts for the same vocal-centric pre-chorus sequence, which I thought was a little disappointing. I wished they changed up the sequence further to keep the song dynamic in that way. But that is only a minor issue compared to what came about the chorus. Overall, GRATATA was heading in the right direction in terms of energy and atmosphere. It was also a strong song to debut with, as it showed off the members’ ability. If only the chorus didn’t make me cringe.

The visual game within this music video was very strong. I did like the sets that were used for the closeups and choreography. I particularly thought the set which had the flowy silk over their heads to be quite cool. I also like their black, white and silver approach to the colour palette of this music video. It felt very industrial which also bumped up the cool factor of the video. The lighting was used to infuse a bit of colour, which I thought was clever. But overall, not much else to this strong visual music video.

With references to snipers and shooting in this video, there was a lot of sniper forms throughout the choreography. I also liked how they transferred the bombastic nature the chorus to the choreography, as well. Other than that, the moves were bold and intense, reflective of the song. I also appreciate the synchronised nature of the performance. It made everything look so much more polished.

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