Knee Jerk Reaction: “What I Said” by Victon

I remember writing a review for one of Victon’s songs back in 2017 (maybe two), during their rookie days shortly after their debut. I recall saying something like I thought their music was good, but I feared they were going to get lost in the shuffle with all the K-pop groups out there… which unfortunately turned out to be true for a bit. Thankfully, Seungwoo’s and Byungchan’s appearance on Produce X 101 – and Seungwoo’s inclusion in the short-lived X1 (RIP) – brought some attention to the group overall. They’ve kicked off 2021 with their first full album, and their highly appealing single “What I Said” has definitely caught my attention.

“What I Said” is latin pop inspired, which I find SUPER interesting because that’s not really the trend in K-pop anymore. But I think it’s a great choice – not many groups are doing that style anymore, so “What I Said” has a better chance of standing out now compared to if it had been released a couple of years ago. The verses and chorus are catchy enough to be memorable (very important if you want to appeal to the Korean general public), but not so much that they become repetitive or monotonous. The song has an edgy vibe like most music other boy groups are making, but it also has a unique flair that gives me a better idea of what Victon brings to the table. So it’s pretty nicely balanced in several different ways.

It’s always great to see groups take on certain genres and nail them, but I think it’s cool how Victon used latin pop as an inspiration and built on it to make it their own. While the background instrumentals of “What I Said” do sound very much like latin pop, there’s still room for the members to do their own thing – especially for main rapper Hanse, whose fast-paced verses really make an impact. And I have to say, I really appreciate how latin pop is purely a musical influence and not an aesthetic one in this comeback – at least, from what I’ve seen so far. Sometimes a concept change means that all the attention gets focused on that, and the group has trouble making it part of their overall identity beyond the comeback. So having an entirely different visual theme in the production design lets Victon show their colors and helps them avoid getting boxed into that potential pitfall.

Speaking of the production design, I was quite drawn to the music video. It seems like Play M has really stepped up the quality for Victon since their rise in popularity (and deservedly so). The music video for “What I Said” is aesthetics on aesthetics. My favorite set is the teal one with the chandeliers; it matches so perfectly with their outfits, and it all gives off a dark yet glamorous energy. I also really liked the chess theme that ran throughout, especially when Hanse’s set that looked like a chess board and the shots with the giant black statue-like game pieces in the background. I’m not exactly sure what it has to do with the song – the lyrics mainly talk about ambition, so maybe it’s an allusion to tactics or strategy like a power play? In any case, I think it’s a great visual touch.

I also enjoy the dance a lot. I like how parts of it are hard and forceful, and then some of the other parts are much more smooth and fluid. Many K-pop dances are very fast paced and are often on double time speed, so it’s nice how this choreography slows things just a touch down. The movements really hit the beat, which I think makes a lot of impact.


(NOTE: My options for each category are “Love,” “Like,” “Neutral,” “Not My Style,” or “Dislike.” But I rarely dislike anything, so I’ll mostly be using the other four.)

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Victon is one of those groups that I’ve known about forever but have never really gotten into. I genuinely don’t why, because I think they’re quite talented and I’ve always said they were underrated. But for whatever reason, I’ve always had the same pattern when it comes to Victon: watch the music video, remark how good of a song it is, tell myself I should listen to them more, and then completely forget about it until they make another comeback. Thankfully, I think “What I Said” has broken whatever weird cycle I was on. It’s really memorable to me, and I’ve already listened to it a bunch of times this week. This comeback certainly piqued my interest, and I’ll definitely start being more proactive about following Victon from now on.

(“Knee Jerk Reaction” is a column I created to talk about comebacks or debuts when I don’t have a lot of time to write in-depth reviews. A knee jerk reaction is like an automatic response, so it’s a post about my initial thoughts on the song, the music video, and the performance if it’s available. Compared to my reviews, everything is more stream of consciousness and less analytical. And everything is 100% my own opinion!)

SOURCES: Featured image and music video are from Play M Entertainment.

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