[Review] DONGKIZ don’t reinvent the wheel with funky “Universe”, but it’s quite fun nevertheless

After a debut year stuffed with upbeat funk pop comebacks, DONGKIZ explored edgier sounds in 2020. Neither concept has brought them much attention, but I think a youthful, exuberant style best illustrates their charms. New single “Universe” calls back to their 2019 era, albeit with much more generic trappings.

Unfortunately, you can feel the budget being stretched with this comeback. The group is supported by a small agency, which will always be an uphill battle when competing with the titans of the industry. Judging by the simple performance video for “Universe”, they could really benefit from a money-making hit. The song’s intentions are in the right place, but I don’t see it breaking out in any meaningful way.

Aside from that worry, “Universe” is a fun little funk pop offering. The production lacks character, but I’m always up for this kind of groovy, brass-fueled bop. A whistled hook quickly gives way to a bouncy beat, underlined by swirls of retro synth. The verses unveil a few nice melodic turns that keep interest building. In contrast, the chorus of “Universe” feels quite predictable. Luckily, its effusive instrumental gives the familiar hook plenty of roller-rink ready drive. DONGKIZ bring some character to the track, though they’re constrained by an arrangement that plays things straight rather than introduce its own memorable calling card. For listeners who don’t already enjoy this style of music, I’m sure the track will feel distinctly average. But its upbeat, pleasant nature gets some extra love from me.

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