Reviewing all of fromis_9 (프로미스나인), Part 1 – To. Heart, To. Day, and From.9

In the light of their upcoming comeback and my resurged desire to once again spend some time doing nothing but reviewing a large quantity of items as I have done once already with all musical output from Loona, I have decided to review all of fromis_9. I will go through all of their output in chronological order, say something about every song and rate it on a scale from 1~10.

In the post I linked about reviewing all of Loona, I have also explained what exactly I mean when I use a certain number to rate a song, so you can look it up if you are curious, but important is: Everything below 4 I wouldn’t want to listen to, 4~6 are passable but I wouldn’t actively seek them out, 7~9 are good to very good and I actively search for it, and 10 is, obviously, perfect. The opinions I express here are a momentary assessment and subject to change – I might not have these opinions in a few months time. With that stuff sorted and without further ado, I will begin the first part of this extensive reviewing exercise spanning their debut mini album and first two comebacks.

To. Heart, Mini Album

1. The Way To Me (나에게로 오는 길) (Intro.)

The girls take turns saying some cute things to “you”, their one and only, who they don’t know yet, but they are sure exists somewhere, who they will wait for, and then they’ll fall in love and so on. It made me wince, but just a little bit. It is not much of a song, just them talking over some piano playing. So I don’t know, I don’t care for it, it’s not an actual song, there’s not much to rate here. But I guess you could say it is cute/10?

2. To Heart

I love violins, so every song with violins automatically won at least some favour with me. It also helps that this song is absolutely amazing. The verses are not as interesting, but my God, that chorus has stayed in my head ever since I first listened to it, and I adore it to death. I really cannot say that much about it, it’s just really good. The video is, like the intro, cute, I guess. I could never really get into music videos that consist mostly of girls smiling at each other, into the deep nothingness or the camera, it makes me rather uncomfortable (especially the latter), but it’s not the worst at that (except for the last shot where Nakyung very slowly walks over to the camera to hand over her love letter, I cannot watch this without feeling very awkward), and the parts where they just do the choreography look really nice, actually. Back to the song – If the verses would be just a bit more memorable, I could easily call To Heart perfect. The verses aren’t bad by any means, they just aren’t as interesting. Because of that, I will give it a 9/10.

3. Miracle (환상속의 그대)

This official video is just the choreography. The video, like the song, is completely uninteresting to me. It’s like they stretched out the most boring second from To Heart to the length of a full song. It’s a boring, uninspired B-side if I ever saw one. I wouldn’t be offended if I heard it playing anywhere, though. 4/10.

4. Pinocchio

Again, the video is just the choreography, but this time, they dressed up for Halloween or something. In the intro, Hayoung demonstrates that Jisun has very puffy cheeks. 1) Cute. 2) Jisun’s facial expression looks basically like I do watching all of this: Not very interested, maybe even a bit annoyed. The choreography itself is actually quite nice to watch this time. The song is certainly more interesting to listen to, but gets dragged down by the writing at times. Especially full lines that just consist of “uh, uh, uh” and so on are never good. The random pitch spikes at the end of some lines are not very pleasant either. Outside of that, I actually quite like it. What I do think, however, is that the video is a big part of why I like it. The choreography suits the song pretty well, and underlines it perfectly especially in the chorus. Watching the video and listening to the song is enjoyable, just listening to the song is still not bad or anything, but at least less enjoyable. The song itself I will give a 6/10.

5. Be With You

This video starts off with Jisun and Jiwon softly starring into the camera, deeply into my soul in fact, singing about how they always want to be with me. I hate this so much, you cannot even imagine. This is also honestly the only thing I can remember from both the video and the song, despite having literally just watched it again. There is offensively little noteworthy about it all. A very subpar B-side love song that drags on just a tad bit too much. 3/10

6. Glass Shoes (유리구두) (MAMA Ver.)

Glass Shoes was released exclusively as their predebut-single, but also included on their debut mini album. The two versions are basically the same, so I decided to just merge them here. The song does something I would describe as “going forward”. It’s rather energetic for how soft it sounds, especially in the chorus. However, it sounds so “soft” that it doesn’t really sound like much, if that makes sense. It’s not a bad song and I do actually seek it out to listen to from time to time, but it does sound like it could be from every cutesy girlgroup in existence. It’s sweet, inoffensive, non-experimental, so…so safe. It’s not bad in what it does, I would’ve just liked if it would’ve ended up being a bit more characteristic. 7/10.

“To. Heart” is, at large, a rather boring release. Sure, the title track is amazing and there are two other rather nice songs on there, but it’s, in general, quite bland. It is a very “non-threatening” first release, just some mindless cute love songs, all made in the same style, some just better than others. As a mini album, I find it to be just kind of forgettable. “To Heart” is just a single for me, really, and that single is exceptional, but the whole release is not much to care about.

To. Day, Mini Album

1. Close To You (다가가고 싶어)

Again, the intro is just the members talking. I don’t really care/10.

2. Think of You (너를 따라, 너에게)

I am not a fan of the continuous “utz utz utz utz utz utz” drums. I actually hate them. The “fading” in the verses/pre chorus that the instrumental does is also kind of shit. I can’t really put my finger on it, but it reminds me of some kind of music that was very common in Germany in the early to mid 2000s? Maybe I’m thinking of some Europop? I don’t quite know. In any way, they can be happy that the chorus still sounds really nice. That saves it from being actually not pleasant at all and elevates it to a solid “I’m not mad if it lands in a randomly generated playlist”. 5/10.

3. DKDK (Pit-a-pat(두근두근))

This was the first fromis_9 song I ever listened to. I became a “fan”, or let’s rather call it “frequent follower” through this song. What immediately got me when I first listened to it was the writing in some lines, for example the way they fill out the first line of a pair completely and end it “prematurely” in the second line of said pair, and maybe they use the free space left in the second line to add something more. To this day, it’s just really interesting to listen to. I would call it a more “dynamic pattern”, maybe. The song is generally nice and upbeat, very bright in its production. The “두근 두근” (Dugeun Dugeun) chants in the chorus easily produce an earworm whenever I listen to it. Also: big cat, big plus. I absolutely love the song, and I’m glad I randomly found it back then and gave it a chance. 9/10.

4. 22Century Girl (22세기 소녀)

I don’t know, it’s a B-side, it’s not very interesting, and I always forget it even exists, and also in the chorus Nakyung tries to sing way too high for what she is actually capable of. 5/10.

5. Clover

This sounds like someone accidentally pressed some button and made the instrumental slower and no one noticed because it’s just a bland B-side anyway. 4/10.

6. First Love

I fail to really differentiate this song from the other B-sides. 4/10.

It’s really sad how unimpressive and just simply forgettable every B-side on To. Day is. Whereas there were some nice songs left to find on To. Heart outside if the title track, the single is really the only good part here. At least the single is, again, really good. Whenever I look through song recommendations on the streaming service app of my choice (YouTube Music, actually), and I see any of the B-sides off the first two mini albums (besides Pinocchio), I just don’t even know how they sound anymore. And when I let a randomly generated playlist run and one of these songs play, I fail to remember the name. They are boring, joyless, just exactly what I would imagine if someone says “B-side”. Kpop is one of the worst offenders when it comes to just stuffing uninteresting songs no one would ever want to listen to into albums that sell just off the success of the single. Sure, there are exceptions, but the first few releases from fromis_9 are certainly not that.

From.9, Special Single Album

1. Love Bomb

“Love Bomb” was the release that brought some sort of mainstream attention to fromis_9. Justifiably so? Well, yeah. It’s a quirky song with a lot of energy and interesting musical ideas. There’s that xylophone or wind chime-esque clinking in the background I quite like. The only thing I’m not a big fan of is Chaeyoung’s rapping at the beginning of the second verse. Outside of that, it gets better and better, especially the finale is grandiose and just well done. The eventful, stylistic video suits it well too. Even though there’s a lot going on in both the song and the video, it doesn’t feel overbearing to me, and it still contrasts well with the much slower, suddenly so much more empty bridge after the second chorus, building up a great third one. There’s so much to unpack here, the instrumental and how vocals are used everywhere is dynamic, never really gets old, it’s just really nice. However, the rap spoils the whole flow a bit for me, and I “crave” to listen to it less than I do with DKDK and To Heart. It’s still an 8/10.

2. Dancing Queen

Jazzy. I like it. The piano in the chorus sounds kind of fun. Not a bad rap part this time, but a boring one. Bridge sounds great, the percussions are a nice touch. There are some cool, sort of funky guitar riffs in the end as well. It’s nothing spectacular, but a nice song. 6/10.

3. Coloring (물들이)

This, to me, sounds just like all the To. Day B-sides. I also think it’s on par with them. Not much is happening, nothing’s really memorable about it. The last chorus sounds a bit more eventful, but that’s it, really. 4/10

There are also CD exclusive “From.9 Versions” of “DKDK” and “22Century Girl” included, but they are no different from the originals. The only difference is that Gyuri, who did not participate in To. Day as she was busy with Produce 48, now also has a part in these songs. Thus, there’s no reason to bother with them. Just for your information.

Although fromis_9’s early releases include great singles, they lack consistently good B-sides to make the releases worthwhile as a whole. Even the better B-sides (Pinocchio and Dancing Queen) I don’t intently listen to. If they come up in a playlist or if they get recommended, I tend to give them a listen and enjoy them, but that’s it. The other stuff I wouldn’t ever actively seek out. To Heart and DKDK are amazing singles that sadly never received as much attention as I would’ve wanted them to, but at least they started to get some spotlight with Love Bomb, a song not much worse than their first outstanding singles.

This will be it for part 1. Part 2 will be released soon enough. Thank you for reading.

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