[Double Review] Refresh + I Believe – Zico & Kang Daniel / Bae Jin Young & Kim Yo Han

For the first time ever, I am putting together two songs by two different sets of artists into a double review format. For today’s double review, I will be focusing on Zico and Kang Daniel’s collaboration, Refresh, and Bae Jin Young and Kim Yo Han’s collaboration, I Believe. The reason why I am group these two songs together is because they form part of the 2020 Pepsi and Starship collaboration, which has been occurring lately. Refresh was released back in April of this year for the For The Love of Korea part of the collaboration, while I Believe was released two weeks ago as part of the Heritage Project part of the collaboration. The four artists join a long list of other popular KPOP artists who have participated in the Pepsi and Starship collaboration, including Eunha and Ravi, Ong Seong Woo, and Hongbin and Hyungwon.

Not only does Refresh features the likes of both Zico and Kang Daniel, the song is also co-produced by Steve Aoki. That in itself means that this is a pretty star-studded lineup for a two and half minute song. Both Kang Daniel and Zico sings during the verses, with Zico adding some raps to the song later on in the second verse. These parts were decent, but they don’t really scream out Zico or Kang Daniel in any way. The pre-chorus hook was pretty decent as it gives the song some life and memorability, before dropping a half squeaky and half screechy type of synth in the chorus. Not really the most likeable synth out there, but it has its charm. The saving grace of Refresh is the heavy thumping bass. It probably shows how easily you can satisfy me, but the thumping really added momentum to Refresh for me and accented the right parts at the right times for me.

I Believe is actually a remake of a ballad OST by Shin Seung Hoon, which was released for My Sassy Girl (who remembers this movie?). Bae Jin Young and Kim Yo Han’s version gives it a trendy and fun retro spin, featuring a heavy amount of 80s synthesizer in its instrumental. I have no issues with this style as the instrumental brought a smile to me. They keep the melody from the original and also incorporate some raps, which genuinely surprised me. The song ended up being quite memorable and catchy for me, thanks to the collaborative nature of all the song’s elements. Aside from all the positivity that I am writing about the song (and the positivity that the song brings), I have nothing else to say about the song (and this is a good thing).

For Refresh, the theme was loving Korea (i.e. it was the ‘For The Love of Korea’ project) and there was a lot of traditional influence in the music video. The production value for Refresh was extremely high based on the visual effects that were utilised. I think it was a very suitable music video for Refresh, given the concept of the project and the appearance of both Zico and Kang Daniel in the video. I also liked their outfits and the product placement of Pepsi felt light and suitable. Kang Daniel makes a second appearance in the Pepsi and Starship collaboration project at the start and end of the I Believe music video. While we hear a bit of the Refresh instrumental, Kang Daniel starts a game on an old arcade that segueways into the main body of the music video that features the actual artists of the song. As for Bae Jin Young and Kim Yo Han, the video depicts them having fun whilst alone. I like how they incorporated the 90s filter of a circular frame and the white-washed lighting that many might remember from 90s KPOP music videos. Even their fashion looks like it could have been from that era (though some of it has been modernise to fit the current 20s). I also noticed that both videos acknowledged current events, with a little nod to face masks and elbowing in place of a hug or high-five.

Both songs are quite danceable. However, only I Believe has a proper choreography routine. Based on the music video, it looks pretty good but isn’t anything impressive. The pair do put in a lot of effort for an one off performance and that really lifts the look of the choreography by a lot.

Refresh – Zico & Kang Daniel
Song – 8/10
Music Video – 10/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

I Believe – Bae Jin Young (CIX) & Kim Yo Han (WEi)
Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.7/10

[Review] Summer Hate – Zico ft. Rain

Returning last week was Zico with the mini-album Random Box. It has taken a while, but as promised, here is the review for the title track from that mini-album, Summer Hate. This is Zico’s first release since the chart-topping and Tik-Tok trendy Any Song hit. Joining Zico is Rain, who many may know is a popular soloist for his many KPOP hits during the 00s. More recently, Rain has been attracting attention with his 2017 GANG comeback (though it has been trending for all the wrong reasons). It is interesting to see two very different trends in the industry and it does make you think about what song these two will put out, given their more recent viral history.

As the next instalment in Zico’s discography, Summer Hate comes off as a pretty weak track. Summer Hate is all about the annoying Summer heat that people have been and will always go through during Summer. It is a unique topic and concept, but I feel that the potential ended up being wasted due to poor execution. As it is a Zico self-produced song, the song is of the hip-hop genre and has a sing-song delivery that I believe is ill-suiting for what Zico was trying to get at. Everything comes off as very emotionless. I don’t get any of that annoyance of the Summer heat that the lyrics are trying to convey from his delivery or the overall feel of the song. When I think of annoying Summer heat, I think of unbearably hot concrete that will burn the sole of your feet if weren’t careful. Or the urgent need for a cool drink after a five-minute walk to the shops. There is a bit of energy to each of these scenarios and I feel that is the missing piece to this song. His intention was probably to make the song sound lazy, as one would feel during the hottest time of the day. But I don’t think it ever hits that mark. I do admit there were a good beat and melodies in this song enough to make the song bearable. I like the saxophone in the instrumental. But this all wasn’t enough. Finally, the other issue with the track was Rain’s featuring. Did he even feature in the song, as it sounded like Zico throughout the entire track? I was waiting for some of Rain’s distinct vocals, but they never appeared!

Unlike the song, the video was well executed. It showed the concept of heat quite well, though quite exaggerated for most of the video. Some examples in the music video included cooking of food on the concrete floor (my personal favourite in the video), the melting of metal and the clothes catching on fire. My main issue is with their attire during some of the scenes. One of my personal pet peeves is when people complain it is too hot and they are wearing inappropriate clothing, such as Zico and Rain’s long sleeves at the end of the video as they melt away. If they melted away in shorts and a t-shirt, then I wouldn’t be making such comments as the video would make more sense. It may make them look good, but honestly, who looks good on a boiling hot day where everything is melting away?

There is a bit of choreography during the chorus, which seems to be choreographed to be suitable for TikTok. After all, Zico has restarted the TikTok trend with this comeback, following its success with Any Song. It is suitable and reflects the lyrics well.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6/10

[Special] Catch Up Review #16 – Zico

Zico kicked off 2020 with Any Song and has been killing the charts up until now. But brewing on my ‘Coming Soon’ list are four of Zico’s songs (Human, Daredevil, Balloon and Being Left) that have been waiting for a review. And today, after almost a fifth month period, I am getting around to review them. Previously, I have promised that I will do a catch up using the catch up review segment from a few years ago. These posts were to be published earlier in the year, but I have been holding off for when I had a little more stability. I have a few more Catch Up posts to do in the coming days, so keep an eye out for those. In the meantime, let’s move along with the Zico-centric review.

Human (사람)

We have a magnitude of sounds from Zico in the past. The songs he produced for Block B are a prime example of this variety. For a solo act, we know Zico for his hip-hop based tracks. But Human is a little different as it is more of a ballad. And it is a pretty nice song, with everything from the acoustic instrumental to his delivery of his rap lines are very easy on the ears. The melodies make the song standout for me, as it is one of those that gets you swaying along. The music video was very well shot, showing us that everyone is the same, reflective of the lyrics which tell a similar message. The humans in the background are shot in a way that you see their silhouette, showing that we are alike. We we get to see the people with proper lighting. I found the car crash scene and the outdoor cinema scene fascinating, as it reiterates this. Everyone just stood there filming the drama/action and no one helped or seemed worried. The only time we saw that was in the fictional movie. Other than that, it is just another suggestion that we are all the same. Interesting and well shot video. (9/10)

Daredevil 천둥벌거숭이) (Feat. Jvcki Wai, YUMDDA)

Going to my comments that opened the review for the last song, Daredevil is probably the style that we are used to. Not saying that this is his only style, but I think majority of his most well known tracks tend to be of this upbeat hip-hop style. I find the melody and beat of Daredevil to be super addictive and very fun sounding, which I am sure if the intention of the song. Zico, Jvcki Wai and YUMDDA all had great delivery and really made the song progress forward. I remember always enjoying the song when it popped up on my playlist. I just felt like the song could have used some accents in the instrumental to help make it potentially bolder. But I am no music expert (remember that!). The music video is pretty good as well. While I am not exactly sure what is going on, it seems like Zico and co. are some sort of Gods in this video. I found the video to always have something new that I did not notice before everytime I watch it. And that the song is quite enjoyable, so I am always coming back for more. (8/10)


Balloon is another track that falls into that ballad side, rather than more vibrant side we got in Daredevil. Rather it being a ballad, however, I think it is more aligned with R&B. It is one of those songs that you want to put on during a rainy day. Or even when you are drifting off to sleep. Zico tends to infuse more of a edgy and powerful style to his songs. But Zico keeps is very soothing in this track, which is polar to opposite to any song that he has released over (as far as I can remember). I really like the acoustic guitar in this song, which makes the song even more calming and peaceful. The music video is an animation that shows an animated Zico climb the stairs to heaven, where animals feed him (and other people), linking this video to Daredevil. On top of that, Balloons appeared in Human‘s and Being Left‘s music video as well. (9/10)

Being Left (남겨짐에 대해) (ft. Dvwn)

The final song on this list is Being Left, which is another ballad. The instrumental starts off with a very beautiful piano piece. It takes a slight dramatic touch for the first chorus, which features Dvwn who sings at a higher tone than Zico’s opening rap sequence. Zico then enters with a beat and infuses a bit of hip-hop to the song. We then return to Dvwn and a soothing chorus, which I thought was quite nice. Overall, I would describe it as a soft rollercoaster. Hahaha… Zico does an amazing job of fitting into the song, showing us his variety within his work. The music video features Bae Jong Ok, a very famous actress in South Korea. The theory is that the video shows the actress playing the mother of a child, whom she lost during the Sewol Ferry Accident. It is breathtaking to watch and the music makes the video so much more captivating. And Bae Jong Ok does an amazing job at showcasing her emotions without talking. her expressions does all the talking and I find that amazing. (9/10)