When Sechs Kies first signed with YG Entertainment, it was hard to imagine what their new music would sound like. They were one of the defining K-pop groups of the late 90s, known for hard hitting dance tracks and delicate, mid-tempo singalongs. As with any comeback from a first generation band, I would have hoped for an updated, modernized version of their classic sound. But rather than give an ode to what made them such a force twenty years ago, Sechs Kies has been shoehorned into the standard YGE house style.
Not everyone may agree, but over the past few years YGE has felt like an agency running out of ideas. They rely so heavily on a small group of composers that all their material starts to sound the same. “Be Well” could have just as easily been performed by WINNER, iKON, or even Big Bang and sounded roughly the same. The song begins like every other recent YGE ballad, with plaintive singing over a minimalist, moody instrumental. It’s a template that works, but its beginning to sound quite stale. Almost every element in “Be Well” can be predicted far in advance. Its melody takes familiar turns; its delivery does not feel unique to Sechs Kies.
This is in contrast to the group’s 90s work, which often felt raucous and unrestrained in its ambition and energy. Yes, the guys are older now, but why make a long-awaited comeback if you’re going to limit what made you interesting and unique in the first place? A group of Sechs Kies’ pedigree deserves more than a song that feels like a cast-off from YGE’s younger acts.