[Review] Kang Daniel returns with sluggish “Antidote”

As somebody who didn’t get into Broduce 101, I mainly know of Kang Daniel for being famous (or the ex-boyfriend of TWICE’s Jihyo), and while his solo releases have been fine they haven’t grabbed my attention either. Now though, he’s used his personal battles that caused him to go on hiatus and channeled that into his most captivating release yet in “Paranoia”.

Oh shit, wait … uh, I got lost.

Sorry to The Bias List. IATFB, out.

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While most Produce 101 alum have migrated to an idol group or signed with agencies for solo promotions, Kang Daniel’s own KONNECT Entertainment has afforded him a higher level of creative control. Lately, he’s leveraged that by incorporating his own experiences into his music. And although the results haven’t always been to my taste when it comes to sound and style, I give him credit for opening up in a vulnerable way.

New single “Antidote” feels like a sequel to February’s “Paranoia. It again takes on heavy, emotional subject matter and boasts an instrumental that echoes that tone. The production makes a few novel turns, especially when the tempo kicks up during verse two. I like the idea of forging rock guitar to the alternative r&b beat. Other than that, the production is quite minimal throughout, which puts pressure on Daniel’s vocals to drive the track.

For a song with such personal elements, this style of arrangement is probably a smart choice. You hear Daniel right up front, putting emphasis on his story and emotion. But as with “Paranoia”, “Antidote” just doesn’t do anything for me. It’s not that I can’t relate to Daniel’s struggle, or appreciate how the music brings that struggle to life. I just don’t think the song itself is all that interesting. The chorus feels too repetitive, and the arrangement too sluggish.

I guess I’m a fan of contrast, where an artist takes difficult subject matter and ties it to an unexpected instrumental to frame that content in a new way. Sad melodies and somber beats may illustrate a theme, but I rarely find them very engaging.

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