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Artist Spotlight: Hori7on

Aug 20, 2023 | Review, Spotlight

Rather than do an album review, I wanted to examine the music videos they have put out so far. I looked at Dash, Salamat (고미워), Six7een, Death or Paradise, and How You Feel (featuring 하은 from Lapillus).

Let me start by saying that the members of Hori7on are very talented. I thoroughly enjoyed their talent and skill in these tracks. The dancing in the 2 performance videos was cute and light, they obviously have their own styles that they need to grow into but you can see the potential there. As a whole, their vocal sound is very rounded and pleasant! My favorite in terms of artist talent was Death or Paradise. I didn’t dislike any of these tracks. But as you will see below, I’m not a fan of the production for most of these. That’s going to be the bulk of my discussion. So if you’re not interested in that, the TL;DR is that the artists themselves have great potential and I’m interested to see where they go from here. Hopefully you hear something you absolutely love and find a new favorite.

Also, as a disclaimer: I am going to mention a lot of other artists and genres. I’m not comparing in the sense that I’m saying anyone is better or that I think they’re copying. It’s just easier to explain my thoughts using examples. There is no such thing as purely original creative works at this point in humanity. Everything is inspired by everything else. So when I say “this reminds of this and this” it’s not negative and there is no judgment in that statement. In fact, artists actually are encouraged to describe themselves as “X meets Y with a healthy dose of Z” to help the audience know what to expect. I just don’t want anyone to think I’m being negative, because I’m absolutely not. My point of view, especially on this spotlight, is someone studying music and music production with the intent of working in the industry.

Dash

While the vocals on this track or very enjoyable, the track itself feels very much like the first track after a Survival Show. I don’t know that I could explain it. It’s the vibe. Dash especially feels like UNB meets WayV. I dunno if I could explain that though. With a heavy sprinkle of that group chanting that always brings NCT to mind (Sidenote: even when I listened to Hard by SHINee I had to examine why it felt like an NCT song at times, and I realized it was the chanting). The bass was a bit overpowering at times and I wish it had been mixed down more. The song wasn’t really my thing, but I’m not super into the Survival Show scene so it’s not surprising.

Salamat (구마워)

This is a lovely ballad that shows off their vocal skills well. I’m sure the song resonates well with their fans. And I appreciate that it’s in Tagalog instead of Korean or English. But I can’t say that I have more thoughts than that on this particular track.

Lovey Dovey

I don’t know what I was expecting, but the production on this starts us on our adventure of Muse saying “What exactly is MLD going for?” It’s as sugary as the title implies it will be. The production is super drum heavy. Like 80’s hip-hop snare circa Fresh Prince of Bel Air. With this funky bass that gives the impression that the producer wanted to do a retro 80’s song but couldn’t fully commit. While the vocal melody reminds of something that I can’t put my finger on. We’ll get more on that feeling later though. All of this combined isn’t bad or anything, it just leaves my ears feeling a bit overwhelmed and a bit confused by 2 elements that maybe don’t mesh as cleanly as the production team hoped.

Six7een

This is the first track of theirs that I heard. It continues flirting with an 80’s retro vibe, down to the interesting fashion in the music video. Here is where we return to that “this reminds me of something?” feeling from Lovey Dovey. Because that seems like a very deliberate choice here. This track feels like a mash-up of my favorite 2nd and 3rd gen songs, but I’m left completely unable to name a specific song while listening. It’s like they wanted you to feel nostalgic but also think fondly of the song without understanding why. It’s like using a cheat code in a video game. I really like the song, but it feels like I’m being manipulated into liking it by using elements of older songs.

Death or Paradise

If you recall, I said this was my favorite of all of these. Vocally, this sounds like the artists are in their element. I feel like this is how they want to sound. This seems like it is their sound and I love it! That being said, I’m frustrated with the production. I said Lovey Dovey overwhlemed me a bit. This one underwhelms me in terms of the back track. We get 9 seconds of a Spanish guitar intro that leads into a repeating drum and bass progression with random fx and risers sprinkled in, for almost 20 seconds. This then transitions into 14 seconds of building up tension. Just to drop us back into the previous drum and bass. And we basically stay there for almost a minute before going back to the same tension line and then right back here. At 2:10 they introduce rhodes keys (might be an organ track actually? One of the two) for roughly 15 seconds and at 2:57 that Spanish guitar returns for the outro. It was so underwhelming and that was incredibly frustrating for me because the vocal track is my favorite. I’ll probably add this to a playlist anyway. But I would love to see the production team try this style again but with a bit more intention.

How You Feel (featuring 하은 from Lapillus)

We return to the 80’s Funk meets 00’s K-Pop. Sonically, the team is sticking pretty close to this sound and while normally I would appreciate that, it still just feels like an unwillingness to fully commit to a sound. It’s less genre-blending and more trying to force two magnets together facing the wrong way. It’s a good song though! These three matched energy really well and I’ll likely also add this one to a playlist.

In conclusion, I can’t figure out what MLD ENT is going for. Because they sound like 2nd & 3rd Gen K-pop, but also sound and look like rookies (which is totally fine). And it leaves me asking over and over, where are we going with this? Hori7on clearly has talent and charm! But I feel like MLD is trying to tap into older Gens and nostalgic sounds to help the group be accepted quicker. But I think this is a silly approach. If you’re trying to shake up the music scene by introducing an all Filipino group to K-pop, make them stand out and actually shake things up. Rather than bringing older groups to mind at every turn. The current Y2K trend is nostalgia done well, because it reminds you of a feeling or a specific time in your life (like falling in love for the first time or middle school summers), but this feels like the production team added elements of older groups so you’d think of them and think fondly of Hori7on by default. And they did it in such a way that made me think “oh that sounded kind like Block B/SHINee/Seventeen/NCT/etc.” But I couldn’t give you a song title that it felt inspired by. I’m very curious to see where they go moving forward and I am hoping that MLD lets them stand in their own sound and allows fans to love them for their own charm. Which I feel they would do a great job with, if allowed to shine as themselves rather than borrowing from older groups with established fandoms.

HORI7ON is the final 7 members of the survival show Dream Maker under MLD Entertainment, ABS-CBN, and KAMP Korea. The group consists of Vinci, Kim, Kyler, Reyster, Winston, Jeromy, and Marcus, who were trained in South Korea and debuted as a global pop group. (taken from kprofiles because the MLD website needs to be fixed)

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