This week is a super busy one for K-pop – not only are several groups having comebacks, but we also have a few rookies making their debut. First up is Ciipher, formed by veteran soloist Rain under his own agency Rain Company. Some of the members might already be familiar to you – especially if you watch survival shows. One of them was on No Mercy, the show that eventually formed Monsta X, six (!!!) years ago. Two of them were formerly under YG and appeared on YG Treasure Box with future members of TREASURE. Another competed on Produce X 101 as a former Starship Entertainment trainee with future members of CRAVITY. And yet another was on Under Nineteen and made it into the temporary group 1the9. (And I also think one of them is/was on High School Rapper???) Since most of the members have some experience, I was definitely curious to see what their debut would be like.
I don’t really know Rain *super* well as an artist because he was at his most popular before I got into K-pop. But from what I’ve seen, he has a very specific image. As a mature man approaching his forties, most of his latest songs are very charismatic and sexy. I wasn’t sure if he would go in this exact direction with Ciipher, since they collectively look VERY young to me. Like, Rain’s wife (famous actress Kim Taehee) makes a cameo in this music video and she is STUNNING, but you can also tell she is very much a fully grown adult compared to these boys. So I didn’t necessarily think Ciipher would be doing a sexy concept just yet, but I was under the impression that they were going to debut with something powerful and forceful – aka fairly similar to what most other boy groups are putting out right now. I truly didn’t expect them to release such a cheerful and happy-go-lucky song.
If you read my posts regularly, you know that my tolerance for this kind of music is… not that high. It’s never really appealed to me in the first place, but that usually becomes even more true when it’s a rookie group. Because rookies are usually teenagers or college-age when they debut, anything on the brighter and bubblier side often feels extremely young to a thirty year old like me. So unfortunately, those feelings definitely came into play in Ciipher’s case. Truthfully, it was very hard for me to sit through the entire thing. But to be clear, I don’t think “I Like You” is a bad song by any means. It’s got a pretty catchy melody, and I’m sure a lot of people who enjoy positive upbeat songs will like it. There are parts of the song that I enjoy, too. For example, both of the rappers’ verses definitely caught my attention and made me want to hear more. It’s just that there’s only so much interest I can muster up for this genre, and at some point “I Like You” gets a little close to sounding like elevator music to me. And I’m not a fan of the liberal use of autotune, either.
On the positive side, I can tell that Ciipher is very talented for freshly debuted rookies. All of their cumulative experience and their training has clearly paid off. (I heard somewhere each of them has been training in the industry – but not necessarily at Rain Company – for three years, but I’m not sure so don’t quote me.) They’re especially strong in the dance department, which makes sense given Rain’s reputation as a dancer. Their choreography for “I Like You” is filled with lots of fun and trendy moves, and it reminds me of the early days of boy groups like GOT7, SEVENTEEN, and ASTRO. I also liked some of the effects of the music video, such as when it looked like their social media page came to life and they were interacting through their different pictures and posts. Actually, the supermarket setting reminded me of GOT7’s “A.” And I love GOT7, so I consider Ciipher making me think of them a good thing.
MY OVERALL INTEREST LEVEL
(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.)
I feel kind of bad marking my overall response as neutral, because “I Like You” is pretty solid for a debut track. But I’m just at a spot where I think it’s good objectively but can’t relate personally – so it seems like “neutral” is in fact the most accurate description. I always try my best to try and get into these kinds of songs, but there’s only so much I can do – and given the large age gap between Ciipher, and myself, there’s not a lot to work with. It’s definitely not something I’ll listen to a lot in the long run, and I’m already starting to forget what it sounds like. That being said, I can definitely see the talent and potential in Ciipher. And I know rookie groups usually need a few tries to find their groove, so I never make a final judgment based solely on a debut. I’ll definitely check out their next couple of comebacks and re-evaluate.
(“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: Music video and featured image belong to Rain Company.