Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Cai Xukun – Pull Up

Ending the day with some non-controversial boy band alum R&B, because dammit we deserve it…


Tim de Reuse: Things to like at the outset: The crisp mesh of guitars and the impeccably produced snap of the snare drum. But it gets sweeter and sweeter as it goes on, thick with synth strings and a cloyingly romantic vocal performance — I think the point might’ve been made just as effectively with less flourish.

Iain Mew: The way that “Pull Up” combines an easy mastery of ageless soft pop with a certain carefully wielded innocence reminds me of Shura. It’s written too broadly to have the same emotional impact, but still a pleasure to listen to.

Taylor Alatorre: “I’ve been going nowhere,” he sings, and the music gladly obliges. But that’s pretty apropos, considering the subject matter. Cai (or Kunkun, as his fanbase adorably calls him) languishes in his situation as the most hopeless of romantics do, begging for a second chance not because he actually believes it will work out, but because he likes the way the words sound. In this case that’s not a dealbreaker, because there’s an ersatz sincerity to his anxious fronting; it’s a peek behind the mask rather than the mask itself. Still, if he’s going to keep emphasizing the “singing” part of sing-rapping, he could use a vocal coach sooner than a relationship one.

John Seroff: Stick an actual singer with a little charisma at the helm of “Pull Up” and I think you’ve got a halfway decent album cut along the lines of “Same Ol’ G.” As is, this is a slog even at three minutes.

Jessica Doyle: I stand corrected: turns out I am not the only person on earth who really liked Zhou Mi’s “Rewind.” Unfortunately Tao is too busy getting that beer money to break things up with a rap; as compensation Cai Xukun receives some very nice R&B production. But the lyrics are a mush and it’s hard to discern any uniqueness. I suspect this plays better if you’ve already watched the reality shows, or at least the unhelpful guides.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: The lyrics would have you believe that Cai Xukun is under some torturous pain but he makes no effort to make that clear with his delivery. The spidery guitar melodies feel slightly constricting but his voice then breaks out of it to sound gloriously sensual. What am I supposed to feel from this?

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: The combination of unfurling guitar lines and those synth-string sustains is luxurious as all hell, and Cai’s vocal performance is appropriately silky. Who cares if the lyric isn’t going anywhere?

Ryo Miyauchi: The chill, early-’00s R&B acoustic guitar is a nice touch for sensual pop, though it’s not exactly a logical match for uncontrollable desire. Cai Xukun adds some emphasis to his vocals, too, to express exactly how wild he feels inside, but it’s not too convincing set against the languid music behind him.

Anna Suiter: Cai Xukun might rely on his personal appeal, but he certainly has it in spades. It’s deserved, too, after winning two different survival shows (and winning first place on one of them, even). That charisma is enough to float him along on a song that otherwise might seem uninspired. At least this song settles into it’s own groove, as much as that’s possible, and Xukun probably will too.

Reader average: [7.5] (2 votes)

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One Response to “Cai Xukun – Pull Up”

  1. Xukun works a little better when he’s hamming it up more. Emphasis on a little, but also, I don’t think anyone’s gonna be watching Idol Producer OR Super Idol at this point, so…