After their wildly successful debut, IVE returned with one of the year’s best and most enduring songs in “Love Dive”. Trying to top that was always going to be difficult, but enlisting the help of Gloria Gaynor‘s “I Will Survive“ was an intriguing way to attempt doing so on “After LIKE“.
In a bit of a twist, “After LIKE” holds most of its intrigue during the verses, built on the back of a rhythm guitar and house keyboard, the foundation is well conceived. It’s relentless in a way that retro disco tracks should be, and the drive in the song helps make it instantly appealing. In terms of using the famous sample, the immediate transition out of the second chorus and into a rap verse was a particularly effective and inspired use.
That said, it was surprising to have an IVE song where the hooks weren’t something I was able to get into. Neither the “what’s after ‘like’” nor “youuu and I, it’s more than like” hooks were particularly appealing (and at times seemed pitchy). Meanwhile, the sample just sort of plays at the end, and it’s so associated with its original song that it almost makes “After LIKE” feel like a disco mashup rather than something that stands alone. The hooks are delivered so blandly compared to like “Love Dive” that the highlighting of the sample just makes me want to go listen to “I Will Survive” instead. Aside from the aforementioned rap verse, the sample is just sort of there to fill out the chorus in lieu of having a fleshed out one that could’ve set it apart and made it special.
So while there’s a lot to enjoy about “After LIKE”, and I certainly don’t begrudge anybody for loving it, I felt like it lacked IVE’s signature earworm hooks. Considering the pedigree of having an all-time song sampled, it being more good than great made for a package that was more of a mixed bag than expected.