I’ll be honest: I have not been able to make it all the way through any Itzy offerings since “Wannabe” (which is excellent), and thus, I am wary of spending the time I steal from my day-job employer to review JYP Entertainment’s latest non-Twice release, Kill My Doubt. That said, I will be as unbiased and open-minded as possible to the people responsible for the disaster that was “Cheshire.”
Kill My Doubt Analysis: Unpacking “Bet on Me,” “Cake,” and More
1. “Bet on Me” – This song is quite a departure from Itzy’s normal style, which is probably why I took a liking to this song on first listen. This is a more subdued and straightforward electro-pop bop that does away with their advertised try-hard “girls with attitude” flavor. I’m a big fan of the pulsing filtered chords throughout the verses, and the track features much more prominent vocal harmonies than we’re used to hearing in K-pop, which I think is a very welcome change. Unfortunately, the second verse contains an out-of-place and unimpressive rap, but this is the only main drawback on an otherwise very solid track. I’m a sucker for pleasant, catchy melodies, and this will definitely be a frequent listen.
2. “Cake” – The initial saxophone riff makes me very nervous and gives me trauma-induced flashbacks to Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty.” Things immediately take a turn for the worse with the introduction of the talking “CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE” refrain. This song is on life support and we haven’t even reached the first verse. The verse itself is not terrible. The syncopated vocal rhythms add some interesting texture, and there is enough melodic motion sprinkled in to keep it from being entirely monotonous. The second half of the verse is a rap, but I don’t hate it, as it fits well with the style of the song and isn’t overly obnoxious. (See? I’m not just a hater.) The chorus has a very catchy melody and has a drastic shift in tone from the rest of the song. It really should be twice as long as it is, but alas, we are back to the cake refrain.
The second verse introduces yet another new style to the song. This is quickly becoming a genre salad that the producers just threw together. After the chorus, we are taken to a more pop rock-style soft bridge that, yet again, is completely out of left field. The final chorus features a drastic change to the instrumentation of the beat, and it sticks out of the mix pretty sorely. It almost sounds like an amateur mix in GarageBand. So to recap, this song has the following:
- Annoying sax riff
- Irritating repeated “Cake” refrain
- Changing styles on every phrase
- A chorus that is too short
- Poor production and mixing
And yet, despite all of this, I don’t actually hate it. “Cake” is surprisingly inoffensive and has very catchy moments. This song had a lot of potential and unfortunately fell short of achieving this, but I would still add this to my shuffle playlist. (This is considered by many to be high praise.)
3. “None of My Business” – I made it through the entire song for the purposes of this review but will never be listening to this again. I was just subjected to a repetitive vocal refrain in “Cake,” and you’re out of your mind if you think I will enjoy an even worse execution of that gimmick in this song. This song actually helps explain why I liked “Cake” more than I should have. “Cake” was full of stylistic twists and turns that kept it interesting and fun, in spite of its lack of cohesiveness. “None of My Business” is consistent throughout, but this makes it extremely lazy and boring. The only nice thing I can say about this is that it is not as bombastic as what I would normally expect from Itzy and is therefore slightly less offensive.
4. “Bratty” – It was an interesting choice to put this right after “None of My Business,” because they are way too similar in tempo and drum beat; “Bratty” just has a more minimalist instrumentation and a worse vocal arrangement. If I wanted to listen to multiple songs that had the exact same tempo and drum beats, I would listen to an early DragonForce album. The vocal melody is stagnant and doesn’t really build towards anything. Perhaps the lyrics are pure profound poetry, but musically this isn’t very interesting. I’ve already listened to this more than I ever wanted to (for you, Dear Reader). I will not be listening to this again. The song is over and I can’t remember anything about it, other than one of the lyrics is “I’m Bratty.” But I could have told you that without even listening to the song.
5. “Psychic Lover” – I was all set to write another dismissive track review for this song when, all of a sudden, it did a hard pivot to an incredible drum-and-bass, pop-rock bop of a chorus. The first two notes of the song made me think I was going to listen to a blatant rip-off of Red Velvet’s “Psycho,” before going right into an up-tempo, trap-inspired beat for the verse, which admittedly does have a somewhat interesting, though not exceptional, vocal line. Just when you think you’re stuck with another uninspiring composition to accompany “Bratty,” “Psychic Lover” transitions away from the half-time hip-hop beat and into the full-blown drum and bass.
To the producers’ credit, I think they pulled it off very nicely. The style divergence here is a pretty big leap, but it comes across rather seamlessly. The chorus is the star of the show and is incredibly uplifting and upbeat, capped off by a soaring chant of “OooOOOooos.” The bridge is not great, but the chorus of this song is so excellent that I’m willing to forgive even the gravest of compositional sins in any of the in-between material. It really is a shame that the song clocks in under three minutes.
6. “Kill Shot” – Prior to listening to this mini-album, I was fully prepared to make a joke about how “Kill Shot” would be the kill shot that cements this EP as a stinker. Then I ended up really enjoying a majority of the songs, this one included. “Kill Shot” delves into heavy synthwave in another welcome change of genres. The instrumental is a strong enough foundation that it would be able to prop up a very lackluster vocal arrangement. While the vocal arrangement isn’t stellar, it certainly isn’t lackluster, either. It fits nicely with the track and never actively detracts from it. I would certainly like to see Itzy and other groups explore this genre much more; I think it holds massive potential.
The Review Verdict on the Itzy Kill My Doubt Mini-Album
I’ve mentioned this before, but I really did not like “Cheshire” and had serious concerns and doubts about the quality of this mini-album and the trajectory of Itzy as a whole. I was pleasantly surprised, and one could even say Itzy managed to Kill My Doubt. Two of the tracks were duds, but I really enjoyed the other four and will likely listen to them regularly.
For the most part, the production quality is what you would come to expect from a powerhouse like JYP aside from the ending of “Cake.” The vocals are mixed decently enough, and the processing is not too overbearing. None of the songs feature any absurd vocal lines that go beyond the realm of believability.
The compositional choices are what stood out most to me. “Psychic Lover” and “Kill Shot” lean on genres that aren’t often explored in mainstream K-pop, and “Cake” is adventurous in the way it seemingly switches styles with every phrase. Kill My Doubt excels whenever the Itzy producers took risks and broke the mold, and it really falters whenever a song fails to deviate from formula. Is this a lesson to be adventurous and risk-taking in life? Maybe, but maybe not. Maybe the songwriters just happened to run out of catchy riffs to use in “Bratty” and “None of My Business.” Either way, two-thirds of this album is a really enjoyable listen, and that’s above average for modern K-pop. I’m sure this mini-album will be a massive success and make JYP a lot of money.
The Itzy Kill My Doubt album was purchased by K-Pop Answers at its own expense for the purpose of this review.