Lee Gikwang’s “What You Like” has a strong hook but gets bogged down by trend riding

The last time Lee Gikwang promoted as a soloist was before Beast or Highlight were even a thing. He made his debut as AJ (short for the ultra-lame “Ace Junior”) six months before Beast released their first single. Back then he was singing about his “dancing shoes,” and the vocoder-heavy track hasn’t exactly aged well. It’s about time for a comeback, and like most of Highlight members’ modern solo work, “What You Like” is composed by the keep-it-in-the-family production duo Good Life.

The biggest hurdle for “What You Like” is that it sounds like everything else out there at the moment. I simply can’t accept that every single K-pop artist can be boiled down to this vaguely tropical, future bass sprinkled r&b style. But then again, Gikwang’s solo material has a history of embracing trends. The song gets by on its lightweight sense of late summer fun and the force of Gikwang’s ingratiating personality. But is it wrong to expect something new and different, especially at this stage of his career?

The verses here feel as if they’re doing little but keeping time, switching cadence and structure too often to be very catchy. Luckily, “What You Like” has a strong hook that grows more addictive with each repetition. The easygoing melody lacks any sense of ambition, but its sunny bounce goes down easy. I can’t help but think that a guest rapper might have livened things up a bit (which is something I rarely say!), as the song feels a little short. It certainly needs something to help it stand out.

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