Review: HEART*IZ by IZ*ONE

HEART*IZ by IZ*ONEWhile listening to IZ*ONE’s second mini, I had to double-check the calendar. It isn’t summer in Korea, nor in Japan – but it is here in the Philippines, and that should count for something. HEART*IZ sees the winners of Produce 48 get closer to making sense of who they really are, and if you ask me, they’ve gotten really close. The mini is filled with effervescent pop that almost never goes wrong – almost, because “Airplane”, regrettably, sounds like a Twice cast-off, and all that came before succeeded in establishing the group’s almost-classy aesthetic. Single “Violeta” is a bit limp, but opener “해바라기” soars, and “하늘 위로” towards the end goes in a slightly unexpected direction. It is, arguably, a summer record released just as spring gets in full swing: a confident, satisfying release from a girl group with seemingly everything riding on them, considering their origin story and their limited time. I’m hoping the momentum continues, because knowing K-pop and its tendency to be inconsistent, I wouldn’t like what’s around the corner… [NB]4/5

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Review: COLOR*IZ by IZ*ONE

Here we go again: another idol group born from a Produce series, this time bringing together 48 Korean trainees and 48 members of Japan’s AKB48 and their sister groups. Produce 48 aimed to build a “global girl group”, but in any case only Koreans picked the winners, and the expectations were the same ones for existing Korean idols – and, in the end, only three Japanese contenders made it to the final group. Yet, IZ*ONE was bound to be interesting: you have the Japanese, who are already veterans at this point, and you have the Koreans, who are wet behind the ears, for the most part – and we’re supposed to get both these nuances on their debut. Well, I forgive COLOR*IZ for not doing so. Even I.O.I, the girl group that sprang out of Produce 101, was confused at the beginning – although the sound in this record is more accessible, and “La Vie En Rose”, while quite generic, is better than “Dream Girls”. It seems IZ*ONE are still feeling their way through the situation they are thrust into, making sense of the chemistry – and perhaps the fact that a sizable number of voters aren’t happy with the dropping of some notable contestants. (Well, perhaps that’s an adjustment for us.) They have two years to release albums that show off the members’ charms more (although at this point Choi Ye-na has succeeded) and maybe prove that they deserve the adoration I.O.I got, and Wanna One is getting. [NB]3/5