Many K-pop fans (especially second generation types) were won over by CSR during their debut last year as the group essentially went through the GFRIEND playbook on “Pop? Pop!” and “LoveTicon“. While it took me a while to be won over by “Pop? Pop!” and I never got completely onboard with “LoveTicon”, the appeal was completely understandable, as they was an almost nostalgic feel in their songs, music videos, and concept. That thankfully continues on in “Shining Bright“, which should prove to be another bright spot in their discography.
CSR seem to almost single-handedly be leading the charge to prove that bright, powerful pop still has a space in the modern K-pop landscape, and “Shining Bright” helps them continue down that path. It’s engaging from the start, hinting at what’s to come with the occasional hard-hitting thumping run and pairing that with a rapid beat that runs counter to the airy and frilly vocal exterior, something that keeps the track moving along at a brisk pace.
The pre-chorus takes things down a notch, but punctuates their build into the chorus with an almost choral vocal outburst. Then in an almost novel move by today’s standards, CSR elect to not suck all the energy out of the song, instead giving us a relentless and joyous chorus that helps “Shining Bright” pick up momentum instead of blunting it. That’s not a new thing for them, but the reason I was hesitant about their efforts in the past is that the girls seemed frequently at their vocal limits (especially in “LoveTicon”), and not having that Yuju power vocal takes away from the GFRIEND vibe and ultimate potential. However, “Shining Bright” mostly solves this issue by keeping them more in their range and making melodies through briskly-executed refrains rather than having belting climaxes or relying on repetitive phrases. The electric guitar to close things out was a nice touch as well.
While I wasn’t among those singing CSR’s praises at the outset, it was difficult to not root for them as a group that seemed backed by a company that had a clear vision and were executing it. “Shining Bright” is the first song of theirs I got into right away, injecting a (sadly) throwback amount of sweet and uplifting energy into a catchy and addictive song that doesn’t wear down on repeats. Hopefully fans and neutrals alike appreciate the consistency, and at least help to continue their gradual rise.