Review: 'FIVE' proves fans won't let Apink grow up
One of Apink's catchiest singles"Kok Kok" is a bop bopNamjoo's vocals
Incredibly safeBomi's bobAlbum needs less ballads
3.7Overall Score
Reader Rating 13 Votes

Apink were faced with an interesting choice last year: Would they finally mature their sound with the dreamy R&B of “Only One,” or stick to their tried and tested formula with the bubblegum “Bye Bye”? They went with “Only One,” which became the lowest-selling lead single of their career, while “Bye Bye” was sent to Japan.

Reeling from their first flop, Apink rushed back to the studio to recordĀ Pink Up. After working with Black Eyed Pilseung on “Only One,” the girls have returned to Shinsadong Tiger for the album’s title track “FIVE.” The production is exquisite, with an early-noughties bubblegum bounce awash with springtime strings and fluttering synths. It’s also incredibly safe by Apink standards, and dare I say, regressive?

“FIVE” is a blatant rehash of Apink’s old hits like “NoNoNo” and “Luv,” which is a clear response to the negative feedback the unfairly-maligned “Only One” received. It’s one of the best songs they’ve ever done in this style, but it also shows that the Korean public won’t let these girls grow up. Even the music video harks back to their early clips, except that the members now look noticeably older, like S.E.S. reuniting on an Infinity Challenge special to perform their greatest hits. I love “FIVE” and “Only One” so I can’t really complain, but it’s disappointing that people won’t let Apink evolve past this one very specific thing.

As a whole, Pink Up is good, but not great. The hilariously-titled “Kok Kok” is a standout with its seductive synth-pop production. It’s like a strong Kylie Minogue b-side and probably the closest thing we’ll get to an Apink sexy concept. Then there’s the sugary “Like!,” which has some great disco strings on the chorus. The pop-rock fan single “Always” is a nice way to close the album, but you’ll have to skip a few ballads to get there. I’m not against ballads, but I’m waiting for Apink drop another album of just non-stop pop from start to finish, like their fantastic 2011 debut.

“FIVE” is currently performing well on the digital charts and netizen feedback has been positive so far, so this comeback will probably do well. I’m happy, but how much longer can the girls keep doing this? They recently renewed their contracts for another three years, so they’re not planning to disband anytime soon. Hopefully they reinvent themselves between now and then, because their Sinsadong Tiger thing might still be working at the moment, but I don’t know if it’s still going to fly in 2020.

  • Funktastic

    LUV was such a big hit. That’s why a lot of fans didn’t understand why they followed it up with Remember and Only One. I feel like FIVE was kind of a late step towards the right direction in their maturing careers. Anyways I’m digging Kok Kok a lot and I hope their next comeback will be like that: mature and upbeat but minus the bubblegum stuff.

  • culchan

    I’ve conflated Apink with April, since they both start with “Ap” and neither have ever released a song that I’ve liked. Then April dropped “Mayday”, which I really dig. I was hoping the mojo would bleed into Apink, especially with Na-eun playing at semi-sexy in “New Face”. To me, this sounds about as vanilla as their previous singles. I guess I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up.

  • francesca yookyung

    Anyone who has been a Pink Panda for a while (like me) would know that most of the Apink members would rather mature their sound, but gotta get that sweet won. Plan A is too safe with them in general, they never let them branch out. I really think they’re missing an opportunity but at least allowing Bomi and Namjoo to pursue a different, possibly more girl crush concept in a sub-unit (Pink BnN or under a different name). Unfortunately Plan A is too scared to do anything new with Apink. FIVE is a jam and so is the album but they’re too old for this.

  • Kok Kok isn’t exactly title track material but I hope they start to go in that direction in terms of maturity; venture into the sexy concept a bit more. It’s what we deserve.

  • KingBeaArthur

    All you had to say was KYLIE MINOGUE and I was sold! “Cock Cock” is good.

    I don’t mind “FIVE” but there’s so many *clears throat* younger groups doing the same sound (some better) that it makes it feel pointless. Like, why would I bother having “FIVE” on repeat when I can just listen to GFRIEND, Lovelyz, or even ELRIS? That being said…I’m not sure I’d be down for ‘sexy’ APink either. I LOVED “Hush” but Korea hated it, so I get it.

    EVERYONE SHOULD STAN ELRIS THOUGH. NEXT BIG GROUP, MARK MY WORDS!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OY-uTE38__M

  • Kyulkyung’s Middle Finger

    if their fans wouldn’t let them mature into sexy concepts, could they at least do a sub-unit that has a sexy concept (like AS and OC, but in reverse.)?

    five is probably the most addicting out of all of their singles for the past 3-4 years so its still deserves a thumbs up, but i’m honestly getting tired of this vibe they serve.

    PS. someone murder Bomi’s stylist! the bob is a crime against humanity