[Review] CIX debuts with “Movie Star”, which is moody & smooth but doesn’t really go anywhere

The year of debuts rolls on with 2019’s second Wanna One-spawned idol group in CIX, who will likely enjoy instant success due to the presence of member Bae Jinyoung. They’re C9 Entertainment’s first male idol group, following the ill-managed Good Day, who have yet to deliver a single comeback since their 2017 debut. With the continued popularity of the ‘Produce 101‘ franchise, the agency is clearly throwing all their weight behind CIX, which includes enlisting a quintet of trendy international producers for “Movie Star“.

This song is fine, in the way that so many idol comebacks have been “fine” lately. It lacks any sense of originality, and doesn’t compensate its sense of familiarly with a killer melody. My biggest gripe with “Movie Star” is its lifeless production, which opts for the same overused brew of trap hi-hats, lurching future bass synths, and downbeat bass that seems to be the go-to style for boy groups who want to appear cool and mature. “Movie Star” could completely transform if given an instrumental makeover, as it needs a more memorable beat — something with a bit of funk or bite.

Similarly, the melody of “Movie Star” plays things safe. Part of me wonders if this is the result of a “song camp” composing approach, where nearly half a dozen producers collaborate to create a track. With so many cooks in the kitchen, it seems like creativity might be sacrificed in favor of consensus-building, with any potentially interesting kinks getting ironed out as a song takes shape. This may or may not have been the case here, but “Movie Star” definitely lacks the kind of ambition I look for in a debut. Compare this to ONEUS‘s “Valkyrie, which opted for a similarly dark approach earlier this year. That song had an incredible instrumental through-line in the form of its central guitar riff and harnessed a sense of shifting momentum through its dynamic construction. Other than a standout pre-chorus that strongly recalls EXO, “Movie Star” feels like a flat line all the way through, made to build to a smooth — if not spectacular — hook.

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