ALL OR NOTHING
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU
When you think of a KPOP group that is quintessential ‘KPOP’, TWICE should be the first name that comes to mind. They are fun, bubbly and loud, and make music that is fresh, bright and exciting like no other – they represent exactly what KPOP is meant to encompass.
So, it seems only right that the first TWICE member to have a solo debut does so with one of the most ‘KPOP-esque’ albums we’ve heard from the genre in recent years.
Despite being the first to have a solo debut among the group members, Nayeon didn’t start her journey by quietly dipping her toe in the water. No, she went for a big and loud splash with the EP IM NAYEON and the title track POP!, a song that is as exuberant as the exclamation mark in its name.
Make it POP!
POP! is loud and enthusiastic, from the playful production with its brassy instrumentals, to the satisfying vocal layering that brings the song to its sugary end. The beat seems to never let up, remaining as energetic and infectious from start to finish, and coming to its blissful peak in the chorus.
The ‘pop! pop!’ and ‘ah! ah!’ repetitions are catchy and thrilling (albeit clearly being TikTok-bait), and likely remind of HyunA’s 2011 hit Bubble Pop! to the KPOP aficionados.
But this cheeky reference is for sure not a coincidence, and likely is a deliberate statement that the crown of KPOP’s princess is now being passed down to Nayeon.
After the pop – b-sides
The EP then continues with NO PROBLEM, which features her label-mate rapper Felix of Stray Kids. The song is simply put pop perfection – it has everything one would want from the genre. Catchy beat? Check! Fresh vocals? Check! Cheesy lyrics? Check again!
Regretfully, the track does have one problem (pun intended) – Felix’s verse seems to bring the otherwise seamless flow of the song to an abrupt halt, shifting the mood in a way that is… not exactly satisfying.
One might wonder whether his presence on the track was really necessary, or if it would have been better as a Nayeon-only song (and the answer is likely ‘yes, it would have’).
The third track Love Countdown is another collaboration, this time with rapper and singer Wonstein. This collab feels much more natural and relaxed than its predecessor, with the two singers casually exchanging verses over the bright guitar sound and the fresh beat.
The track definitely stands out a lot on the EP, and is sure to be one of the most memorable songs on IM NAYEON.
The energy of the title track is found again in the fourth track CANDYFLOSS, which feels reminiscent of POP! as both are bubbly, cheeky, and spark exuberance from every pore. And that is exactly what one would expect from Nayeon.
The tracklist then goes slightly down in energy, with the mellow and sweet ALL OR NOTHING and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU. But even so, the beaming quality of Nayeon’s vocals gives the songs their good dose of brilliance and glee, making them shine in all their delicacy.
Similarly, the EP’s last track is the delightful SUNSET (노을만 예쁘다), which is as sweet and bright as they come.
She is Nayeon
Simply put, IM NAYEON is the perfect debut for an artist of Nayeon’s calibre. It’s big and loud, but it still has that ounce of freshness that allows her to continue to grow as a solo act in the years to come.
POP! is abundant with confidence and pride (and well-deserved, if I may add) – it’s not the anthem of a superstar in the making, but the anthem of someone who is already a superstar and is now ready to shine even more. And that is precisely who Nayeon is.
And that’s why the title IM NAYEON (which is a reference to her full name ‘Im Nayeon’, and also a play on words to ‘I’m Nayeon’) is such a perfect fit for this mini album. The EP is fun, bright, sweet, energetic, and sure of itself – exactly like Im Nayeon herself.
Verdict - 8.5/10