After the surprising announcement of a 15th anniversary comeback for U-KISS that would essentially serve as a reunion, the even more surprising member lineup for it was revealed, and now we finally have that comeback in “The Wonderful Escape“.
Perhaps appropriately, they’ve returned with a very second-generation sounding track, as it’s straightforward, bright, dance pop. It delivers the prerequisite uplifting vibes that come off borderline J-pop in a way, generally giving off a mood like hanging with the boys near the beach on a mild summer afternoon and running around without a care in the world. Mostly I appreciated how the momentum rarely seems to let up, as the rap verse is worked in well as part of the build to the second chorus, and it even has a dance break weaved into the post-chorus without some dumbass beat change for TikTok. In a way, while all of this is very familiar, it’s also now somehow novel in today’s K-pop landscape.
On initial listen it felt like it was missing a distinctive hook, but I’ve found the expansive chorus grows on you, and eventually the repetition and emphasis on gallae (also the title in Korean) to be plenty memorable. Speaking of the lyrics, they talk about leaving worries behind and moving forward in life, which not only goes hand-in-hand with the carefree soundscape, but also fits their current situation as a group (as Alexander, so aptly put it). “The Great Escape” really does well to capture that refreshing and fun vibe in its totality.
While I always have concerns about comeback reunions like this because the music itself can sometimes be a letdown, I’m glad U-KISS returned with something joyful and representative of their current attitudes. “The Wonderful Escape” just makes it hard to not bounce around with, and it’s a rather fitting song for them to use at one of their reunion concerts to get the crowd moving.
Indeed, you are not dead. Welcome back, boys.