After eight months, three song singles, five music video releases, and even a world tour, KARD has finally officially debuted with their first mini-album Hola Hola. Although it feels like we’ve been with KARD for quite a while now, all of their previous activity has been pre-debut; however, on July 20 they took the Korean music show stage for the first time on M!Countdown.
The first mini-album Hola Hola contains familiar songs as its first three tracks: “Oh NaNa,” “Don’t Recall,” and “RUMOR.” “Oh NaNa” was a hit with its original release back in December 2016 and is still just as catchy. The familiarity of the first track even brings a little bit of nostalgia along with it. “Don’t Recall” has been an absolute favorite of mine since its original release and still continues to be my favorite on the album. The strong, harsh vibe emitted by the vocals of Somin and Jiwoo continues to be as dazzling as before, perfectly complemented by BM and J.Seph’s rapping. “Don’t Recall” is a perfect example of the kind of back-and-forth in verses that can be achieved so well by a co-ed group.
The final pre-released track “RUMOR” changes up the line distribution in comparison to the previous two releases with a big chunk of the vocals going to J.Seph, who previously only had a smaller part in comparison to the other members. The change not only gives each member their own time to shine, but it demonstrates the talent of the group as a whole by showcasing their versatility. The fourth track “Hola Hola” is the title track of their debut and brings quite a fresh summer vibe along with it. The backing track has a lighter electronic beat to it than previous songs. Although I’m not quite as in love with this song in comparison to the others, I was still blown away by my girl Jiwoo’s rap verse. A rather endearing addition to the bridge before the chorus is a quick throwback to “Oh NaNa,” which is particularly enjoyable for fans who have been with KARD from the beginning.
The last two tracks on the mini-album are “난 멈추지 않는다” and “Living Good.” “난 멈추지 않는다” has an EDM influence to it, even incorporating your standard build-up and drop that is often heard in popular EDM tracks. The tempo change of the chorus really hooks the listener in as the song abruptly shifts to half-time. I’m a big fan of songs that switch from full to half-time, so I’m very fond of the fifth track. “Living Good” shifts the sound back to “Hola Hola,” which in a way kind of makes it feel like an extension of the fourth track. While I wasn’t as impressed by the musicality of the final song, the lyrics are particularly endearing which is always a nice addition. Despite its similar sound to “Hola Hola,” “Living Good” remains a very uplifting track.
All in all, KARD’s “official” debut has gone well, and their first album release is cohesive. Hopefully long-term success will find this co-ed group and stick with them.