LOONA - Hi High
It's been a fairly ridiculously long journey for the debut of LOONA, but the time is finally upon us. There is a lot of hype surrounding the girls, though I personally have none of that hype behind me heading into this review. Still, there's buzz all around about the group, so "Hi High" has a lot of expectations to live up to. I didn't check into any of the teasers or anything, I just jumped into this one blind.
Alright, let's get this out of the way right off the bat - I don't really like the song all that much. A slick combination of bubbly, pop-centric tones and dreamy, atmospheric synths mark this as one of the more instrumentally unique and interesting songs that I've heard this year, but it also left me wanting a lot more out of the song than that. The vocals for the verses are disparately more compelling and fun than the chorus, which is the main issue that I take with this song. It's a fairly generic refrain progression, and the extra repetitive lyrics of "hi" and "high" didn't really do much for me. And yes, I understand that it's supposed to be cute that they made a pun, but it just felt lacking in comparison to the instrumental buildup as well as the rolling vocals during the verses.
On some nicer points, though, the vocal variety presented by all of the members was excellent, and the high note was powerful and captivating. As I mentioned earlier, the blend of instrumental styles is very different than most everything from this year, which should help the group stand out among the current competition. Overall, I think the song was okay, but I personally am unsure of how it will land with the Korean public. But hey, I've been wrong all this year about songs that I thought wouldn't make it on the charts.
Visually, this is fairly in line with the quality and styling of their individual music videos leading up to this debut. If there are any hidden meanings or what not from all of the fan theories and all that from things leading up to this, I'm unaware, so if you're looking for that sort of insight, I don't have it. I'm strictly speaking from a standpoint of somebody on the outside of the fandom looking in.
In terms of locales, a majority of this sadly isn't stuff we haven't seen before. There were definitely some interesting points, though. Obviously the big controversy that this is likely to spark is over the girls all jumping off of buildings and the like. Obviously there's a hint of suicidal commentary there, but I think the underlying message is more important. In that vein, it's more about rising above those thoughts and moving up in life rather than giving up. I do think, however, that this message will likely just be buried by the negative comments simply because the video even included something like that in the first place.
The choreography shown actually looked pretty great, in my opinion. There were interesting formations and interactions between the members throughout, and I'm really interested to see how it will look in full. Admittedly, the chorus section during the "hi" section kind of had me thinking that it looked like something that might come out of Produce 101, but that show is a smash hit, so it's definitely not a bad thing.
Overall, the video was okay as somebody that isn't entirely immersed in the LOONA universe or fandom. I could have done with some more interesting outfits, but I guess it's still summer so we'll get what we get.
The conclusion to the long awaited debut of LOONA has finally happened, but I'm not really sure that it did much to sway me from my opinions on them prior to this. I have no doubt that the fandom will love and support this song as much as they can, and I actually do think that this will succeed in pulling in a lot of new fans as well. But for me personally, I'm still just waiting to see the full potential of the group. I definitely get the sense that there's more to the group waiting to be unleashed, but this song just wasn't what was needed to convince me that they're ready to take over the scene just yet.