(NOTE: This reaction post is a little shorter than normal due to lack of time and personal circumstances.) Ah, CRAVITY. They’ve only been around for like a year and a half, but somehow my journey with them has been all over the place. They’re on a very small list of rookie groups I’m interested in and actively follow, and that’s all because of their debut song “Break All the Rules.” I actually loved it so much so that I put it in my Top 10 songs last year, and it’s possibly one of my favorite debut songs ever. Their follow-up with “Flame” was pretty good too; not necessarily my style, but promising all the same. However, “My Turn” was… not it for me. (Keep in mind that I’m over 30, so songs with an excessive amount of “skrrt” are not it for me in general.) So, I really had no idea what to expect with “Gas Pedal.”
I know rookies usually need a few releases to find their footing, but CRAVITY is a rare case of a group that came smashing out of the gate with a near-perfect debut. Their first song was so interesting and impactful, and I personally feel their other singles haven’t been able to leave the same kind of impression. (It’s probably me being super picky because I want them to do well so badly, but I stand by that sentiment.) Thankfully, “Gas Pedal” seems to be a step back in the right direction. It’s not necessarily as unique to CRAVITY as I’d like it to be, but it’s still very interesting and dynamic. Much like its name suggests, it does a good job of accelerating the pace and revving up the energy.
My one slight issue here is that I think it sounds an awful lot like a Monsta X song – not necessarily one they’d make today as K-pop veterans, but very close to what they were putting out when they were on the rise a few years ago. The similarity is so strong (to me) that I can actually hear Monsta X members singing or rapping specific parts, especially Jooheon and Hyungwon. (The only one I can’t directly place in the song is I.M, because no one in CRAVITY has a deep voice like him.) I think you could have both Starship boy groups record this song, and it would sound at least 75% the same. And I always get nervous when rookies sound like their company seniors, because I think every group deserves their own distinct identity.
That being said, I think the visual aspects of “Gas Pedal” are very consistent with what CRAVITY has done so far. The choreography is very sharp and precise, and it’s clear that they’ve worked hard on their synchronization and are making full use of their large number of members. Meanwhile, the music video shows us a vibrant and intriguing cyberpunk world with what looks like a mysterious premise for the group’s origin story. (I’m very into all the red and black going on here.) So I don’t think it’s *too* big a deal that “Gas Pedal” could pass for a Monsta X song, because the choreography and the music video help give it CRAVITY’s own special flair. I just hope that it doesn’t become a frequent occurrence.
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.)
CRAVITY is definitely experimenting with different genres and styles as they figure out what kind of group they want to be. In my opinion, “Gas Pedal” seems like one of the better matches for them so far. To be honest, I still wish they would come out with something that truly wowed me like “Break All the Rules” – again, it appears the unfortunate drawback to such a strong debut is that it’s made me super picky about the rest of CRAVITY’s music. However, “Gas Pedal” makes me confident that they’re getting back on track. And when they finally nail down their signature sound, I think they’ll be unstoppable.
(“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 belongs to Starship Entertainment. Since I couldn’t find any full group photo teasers for this release, I used a picture of CRAVITY at one of their Inkigayo performances for the featured image. It’s from their official Twitter account, and you can see the original tweet here.