[Review] Lee Hongki’s “Cookies” at least has a chorus that compensates for the played-out elements

When I think of the artists I would have pegged to go the tropical route, Lee Hongki wouldn’t have even entered the conversation. As the front man of rock band FTIsland, his raspy, powerful voice seems too intense for the style, easily becoming the focal point of anything he records. But as last week’s oddball duet “I Am proved, he’s really up for anything when it comes to his solo work. That kind of experimental mindset leads him down some interesting avenues. Given this, it would be easy to feel disappointed with the generic leanings of “Cookies“.

The song is a perfect example of hookiness and dynamic performance transcending an otherwise derivative style. We’ve heard the island-themed production of “Cookies” a thousand times over during the past few years, and its build/drop structure is familiar to the point of eliciting eye rolls. By my own criteria, I should be absolutely savaging this song right now.

So why am I choosing to overlook these played-out elements? Much of it comes down to the anthemic chorus of “Cookies”. It’s not a particularly sustained piece of melody, but has a welcome heft that positions it as a rousing, sing-along highlight. Coupled with Hongki’s commanding vocal, this refrain transforms into an uplifting battle cry. On the other hand, Ilhoon’s feature feels a bit shoehorned in, relegated to the song’s opening verse and never heard from again. The rest of the verses are stronger, presenting a catchy (and coherent) melody that supports the bombastic chorus with a greater sense of restraint.

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