K-pop group Ive has released After Like, its summer 2022 comeback album, after having teased its arrival for a month. It’s the six-member group’s third release following Eleven and Love Dive, so what should you expect when you go to listen, and what are the key moments in the music video for the title track?
After Like continues Ive’s love of short songs, with the music video coming in at three minutes and the download from iTunes running a mere two minutes, 56 seconds. The B-side, My Satisfaction, is actually longer than the title track. After Like doesn’t outstay its welcome, and is really almost over before you know it. The song’s title is clever, and asks the question about what feelings come after simply liking someone. The influence of social media on the title is made obvious when, during the video, Yujin is surrounded by hearts as she deliberates on what does come after a Like.
— IVE OFFICIAL (@IVEstarship) August 22, 2022
Gone is the ethereal coolness of Love Dive, and in comes a strong disco vibe with After Like, which is quite a departure from what we’ve heard from the group so far. From fireworks to strobing backlights and fluorescent accessories worn by the members, there’s also plenty of ’70s and ’80s nostalgia on display in the After Like video. Underlining the disco influence is the use of the dominant tune from Gloria Gaynor’s incredibly well-known classic I Will Survive.
Will this end up being controversial? While the sample certainly fits the structure of the song and matches quite well with the lyrics, to some it will be not only very familiar, but also overplayed. An empowering disco anthem, I Will Survive has been rerecorded and covered multiple times since its initial release in 1978, and it has been featured on many greatest song lists, so its use here does slightly rob After Like of its own unique sound. It’s a shame, because before that tune kicks in, After Like has that distinctive Ive pop sound that showcases the member’s vocal talents so well. Yet when the song ends, there’s the chance the tune that sticks in your head not because of After Like, but because it sounds more like I Will Survive.
What the presence of I Will Survive shouldn’t do (yet is in danger of doing) is overshadow the growth of Ive’s singers, in particular Gaeul and Rei, who, in addition to other parts of the song, also perform the main rap sequence. If Wonyoung dominated Love Dive, then it’s Gaeul who should become After Like’s star. Ive’s title tracks haven’t included rap before, so to have two members do so here is a treat. While they both sound great, it’s Gaeul who gets the look exactly right throughout. Whether she’s on a platform surrounded by lights, relaxing in the back of a power-sliding convertible car, or dressed in a sparkling D&G outfit, her look, expressions, and voice perfectly match the song.
It has previously taken me several listens before really appreciating Ive’s songs. There’s a surprising amount of depth to each one, and each time it has taken a while for the hooks to really grab me. I Will Survive threatens to overpower the song at first, but the more you listen, the more the Ive sound begins to appear. I really do think Wonyoung’s and Yujin’s pre-chorus and their “Yeah, yeah, yeahs” are as addictive and potentially iconic as Love Dive’s “Narcissistic, my god I love it” line.
I do miss the cool, electropop, almost minimalist sound of Eleven and Love Dive, but After Like explores new territory for Ive, and that’s a good thing for the group and its future. Crucially, it introduces us to more of the member’s talents, and there’s still everything that makes Ive’s music so exciting here, particularly when you consider After Like and My Satisfaction together as one. It’s what a great comeback should be.
If After Like is musically further away from Ive’s previous songs, then My Satisfaction will, as the title suggests, satisfy anyone who wants that harder Ive sound complete with its now practically trademark tempo and style variations. There’s no music video for the song yet, but any choreography for it should be powerful and dark, as there are multiple bass drops throughout and the vocals have a tough edge to them.
Vocals are never overpowered by the strong, ever-present beat, and I highly recommend listening over headphones, as there’s some great stereo separation. After Like may win Ive new fans, but My Satisfaction is more what we’ve come to expect from the group, and is arguably the best B-side of any Ive release yet. It’s also the first time the two songs seem to belong together, with the title track pushing the group forward in a new direction, and the B-side giving established fans — who are collectively known as Dives — exactly what they want.
Ive’s After Like is available on Spotify, Tidal, and other streaming platforms now. It can also be purchased and downloaded from iTunes. The physical release can be purchased from reliable K-pop online stores, such as Global Interpark, for international delivery.
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