[Review] KISS OF LIFE deliver 00s pop gold with “Midas Touch”

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KISS OF LIFE burst onto the scene last year doing something different from most girl groups of the time, embracing a throwback girl crush image but opting for more of a cool and sexy sound. “Bad News” and “Nobody Knows” in particular left a lasting impression on me and many others, so fair or not, expectations were high for “Midas Touch” that they’d continue down the right path.

Thankfully it seems like they did exactly that by modernizing the 00s pop sound (Britney Spears, in particular), and added a wrinkle by merging the pop elements of the era with a splash of New Jack Swing influence. One of my complaints about their last mini was that the members themselves willed some middling productions to glory, but on “Midas Touch” they get more help thanks to a more involved instrumental that features sinewy synth along with syncopated drum beats from an 808 that gives it a nice bouncy rhythm throughout. That drops out for a beautifully-executed, vocal-heavy pre-chorus that’s a highlight in its own, building into a chorus built around the refrain of “touch ya, kiss ya” and “you see, I got that Midas touch”. That didn’t jump at me on first listen, but has proven memorable on repeats, in no small part to the delivery by the members themselves.

While I was dismayed when I clicked on the link and saw the sub-3 minute runtime, as they’re a group that can really make an extra minute or so worth it, I was pleasantly surprised that there was a bridge and that it included a nice Easter Egg callbacks to their solos. Unlike a lot of bridges that go softer, this just leans completely into the 80s more, and Belle delivers the vocal peak that I wanted from “Midas Touch” and helps round it off amazingly.

One thing about KISS OF LIFE’s discography so far is that even if I don’t love everything about a song or it didn’t go in the direction I wanted, the members themselves help elevate it with their charisma and talent. They are the perfect answer for many of the complaints about K-pop’s recent direction.

The presentation of KISS OF LIFE is visually on point in the music video as well, with 00s touchstones everywhere and a cohesive artistic direction for their concepts. It’s a visual treat, not just because of the members but I loved the putting of a modern twist on Greek mythological figures. However, I asked for the teasers why everything was pink and nothing was gold, so I have to ask again why they’re turning people to stone and not gold. The art director must answer for this, they’re not Medusa!

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Anyway, the comp for newer K-pop fans in terms of individual potential star power coming together as group being something like BLACKPINK but melodic. However, for hags KISS OF LIFE is probably closer to SISTAR but with more hip-hop verve. Either way, their comebacks have consistently delivered something to look forward to, and it’s hard not to get excited about how they’ll grow and what they’ll bring in the future. For now, “Midas Touch” might be my favorite from them so far, as its 00s pop hit sound is basically targeted directly at millennials like myself. If it works it works, and when the biggest complaint is that the release is a minute too short and a few songs too short (as a single album) because you want more, you know a group is on the right track.