KARD may be the first group of its kind in the K-Pop scene. Being a co-ed group, a rarity in Korean Pop, the group witnessed success upon their pre-debut despite being from DSP Media, a company outside of the big three (or, now, four). Their unique tropical beat style and quirky dance moves appealed to international audiences and sparked interest as “Oh NaNa” gained popularity. While they do not see the same amount of success in Korea, their fanbase overseas has caused them to remain a hot topic. Within less than a year, the group went on a tour in North and South America, as well as Europe, before touring in Asia, which is simply unheard of in K-Pop for the amount of time they’ve been together. Now they’re back with their second mini-album, You & Me.
You In Me
The title track, “You In Me,” presents a serious side of KARD, though still with their trademark rhythmic tropical house beat. The song speaks of an obsessive, unhealthy love that finally comes to an end. The video opens up with a sign reading “apego,” which means “addiction” in Spanish. Fans are then given an intense storyline split between Jiwoo and J.Seph, and BM and Somin (I can just imagine the ship fanfictions being written already).
The two relationships contrast each other, with J.Seph and Jiwoo portraying a polished, seemingly perfect couple drinking wine in formal clothing. On the other side is BM and Somin in a trashed room, looking distraught and a complete mess. For the first time, the dance is not what everyone is freaking out over, despite the choreo being as addicting as those for their past title tracks. The storyline portrayed in the music video is absolutely heartbreaking, and quickly turns haunting and even uncomfortable at minute 2:18, where BM seems to turn into a lifeless corpse, with J.Seph following suit.
I have two theories. One is that the two girls are both so obsessively controlling and in love with the boys that their partners turn into lifeless beings as a result. This is a respectable depiction of unhealthy relationships, which adequately shows the danger of putting a person on an unreachable pedestal. The second theory is that the girls are so addicted to their lovers that, even when they’re gone, they can’t let go, so they hold onto them desperately. Honestly, this may be my favorite music video of the past few months. Please check it out below.
You & Me
The album opens up with a solemn piano melody, with haunting vocals instantly grabbing hold of the listener. It is clear that KARD is showcasing a different side of themselves, and it’s a dark side that I’m quickly falling in love with. “Into You” builds up to a chill-inducing EDM breakdown equipped with powerful vocals. With such a strong intro to You & Me, it’s hard to imagine that it can get any better.
Following this is a duet from J.Seph and Jiwoo, one of the pairs from the music video. Coincidence? I think not. It slowly becomes clear as the songs unfold that You & Me tells a story of a complicated relationship. Titled “Trust Me,” this song has a strong drum beat behind an EDM-influenced sound that starts with Jiwoo’s vocals. J.Seph joins in after the chorus with a powerful rap verse.
“Push & Pull” further paints the story of the relationship being depicted. This one is the most positive-sounding song so far, with a strong tropical vibe thanks to the inclusion of steel drums. It’s hard to not move your hips along to this track, as it highlights the vibe that made KARD an instant international hit. Following this is “지니까 (Because),” which opens with a SMTM worthy rap. Showing another reason why KARD is unique, the insane rap style and skills of BM and J.Seph truly set them apart from other K-Pop groups. With falsettos from the girls, the song carries the haunting mood felt in the first track, and it suits them insanely well. “지니까 (Because)” is the perfect introduction to “You In Me.”
Closing off You & Me is the second duo-track from BM and Somin, also titled “Trust Me.” While this could get real confusing real fast, I absolutely love this concept of two different relationships parallelling each other. This version of the song is very similar to the first—in fact, they flow so nicely together that they could play back to back wonderfully, or even in combination with one another. The tempo is different, but the background music and vibe is the same. BM joins in with a rap before the chorus, unlike the first version. There is less of an EDM-influence in this track, though it still weaves its way in tastefully. BM also gifts international fans with an English rap—a very powerful and emotional rap, at that.
Overall, I’m insanely surprised by this release from KARD. While I was already a fan, I expected a comeback with a similar bright style as their past releases. However, the group has taken a risk by experimenting with a dark concept, and they have pulled it off wonderfully. You & Me may be one of my favorite mini-albums of the year, and I was not expecting to say that before hitting play on the album.
“You In Me” Title Score: 9/10
Music Video Score: 10/10
You & Me Album Score: 9.5/10