It has been almost a year since BEAST were rebranded as HIGHLIGHT following the departure of Jang Hyungseung from the group on 19th April 2019 and the ending of the group’s contract with Cube Entertainment. The rebranding has, on the one hand, confused fans and meant it has been harder for them to advertise; on the other hand, it has led to the establishment of the group’s own company and label, Around US, which gives them the power to do as they wish with their music, production. As such, with the release of their first EP, “Can You Feel It?” in March 2017, the boys meet us with another EP, “Celebrate”, released on 16th October 2017, continuing to spread their new sound and style, but with the same quality and class. The EP consists of five new tracks, and an instrumental version of the title track ‘Can Be Better’. So let’s get into it!
‘Celebrate’ is the opening electro-dance pop track, fast-paced, energetic, and a great way to end the autumn! It’s a great opening track, very much in the vibes of the title. The use of synths makes it very much an electro-dance track, and definitely a track you’d imagine in a club setting. Vocally, it’s not anything special (though Junhyung’s rap lines are great!), but it’s definitely a sound typical of HIGHLIGHT which is great.
HIGHLIGHT move us into their title track, ‘Can Be Better’, a track very much with the same vibe as ‘Celebrate’, but with a much lighter touch: a fast-paced synthpop-rock track with a great vocal chorus and a different use of the synths. It’s a very lighthearted and energetic track that just sounds like HIGHLIGHT enjoyed putting together.
TAKE ON ME
‘Take On Me’ is a sound that we’re definitely with, particularly with the rise of groups like KARD and GOT7’s musical influences, breaking away from the typical K-Pop sounds of the opening two tracks, and modernising their sound. It was definitely a welcome track and shows that HIGHLIGHT are willing to adapt and bring new influences into their music.
WHO AM I
Things totally slow down with ‘Who Am I’, a pop-ballad of piano, harp, and eventually strings. It’s a beautiful track—not as slow as some of their previous ballads—but nevertheless turns the EP in a different direction. I can’t say that it’s my favourite track on the EP but it definitely serves its purpose.
LOVE LIKE THIS
This goes in a completely different direction: a R&B track with a very obvious R&B melody, HIGHLIGHT move into territory that seems unfamiliar to them and yet works so well. Fitting with the ‘Take On Me’ vibes, ‘Love Like This’ transforms the EP into quite a modern collection of tracks held together by HIGHLIGHT’s new influences. It’s a refreshing closing track, rather picking a ballad to do the work of concluding.
Overall, this is a great second EP: it shows how HIGHLIGHT have recovered from their somewhat tragic fall from CUBE and risen out of the ashes to offer familiar yet new and modern tracks. It only demonstrates how Hallyu groups have a lot of stamina, influence, and determination, compared to American groups that—after such incidents as BEAST had experienced—would have fallen from the face of the earth. Instead, HIGHLIGHT returned bigger and better, and with a strong fanbase that continue to support their efforts. Well done, HIGHLIGHT!
Review by Tariq