Monday, June 17th, 2019

Lee Hi ft. B.I – No One

Returning to K-pop after three years (and to the Jukebox after six)…


Joshua Minsoo Kim: It’s been three years since Lee Hi’s previous single and she’s been gifted a song that 1) doesn’t play to her strengths; 2) feels like a lesser version of Sunmi’s “Gashina”; and 3) features a rapper whose contract was just terminated due to a drug scandal. Honestly, it’s hard not to feel bad. The bits of steel pan in the bridge perked my ears up, but this is too sluggish overall and Lee Hi’s voice and delivery aren’t fierce enough to sell a line like “I don’t care about shit.” She’s one of very few K-pop stars I’d rather see sticking to ballads.

Jessica Doyle: Nothing about this works. The music’s too packed for a narrative of loneliness leading to despair, and Lee Hi isn’t given enough to counteract it; she ends up on the sidelines of her own song, muttering, “I don’t care about shit.” Which may well have been what she said when Teddy offered her a choice of this drop or four other drops just like it. (Lee Hi is senior, so Somi got one of the leftovers.) If this is what passes for creativity these days at YG no wonder B.I. was looking for artificial inspiration.

Iris Xie: Teddy, can you pleeeeeeeease stop with the tropical house. This sounds like a dated non-bop from 2011 when I would go eat Asian-style frozen yogurt (with the rainbow colored mochi toppings, please). Lee Hi pretty much sounds like she’s trying to out-compete Sunmi in Hipstergram potential, but she sounds like a generic demo singer instead, which completely under-uses her voice. I’m fairly certain Teddy has forgotten how to arrange songs and is just trying to patch together melodies, because this sounds even more discordant than BLACKPINK’s “Kill This Love” — which I wasn’t sure was possible — but the generic flute-wheezing, in the end, sounds like what this song is: a broken airless accordion.

Kalani Leblanc: I have no clue what’s going on here. Who is this B.I? Is Hanbin his Mr. Hyde? The rock I live under is quite cozy. The reggaeton sound is very on trend and makes the right moves like it was written by an AI Teddy. Get well soon Mr. Hanbin. 

David Moore: I’m a sucker for percussive clatter, and this one has a pleasing panoply — clinks, clunks, ticks, taps, booms, baps, crunches, crashes, you name it, but for all that texture and timbre there’s not a lot going on out front — and it suffers like everything else does from its Streaming Age choruslessness.

Will Adams: Lee Hi actually manages to sell the otherwise cookie-cutter production at the start. It’s not until we reach a snoozer of a drop that’s like “Taki Taki” on Nyquil and B.I’s similarly drowsy verse where the song’s fate is sealed. 

Pedro João Santos: Woe-is-me writing yoked to subdued percussion and fluttery woodwind, cuddled with Lee Hi’s vaguely coquettish delivery — belying the sadness at heart — and B.I.’s more vigorous, enjoyable participation. “No One” is passable for most of its length, managing to go above its lackadaisical flavour during the more labyrinthine teases of the bridge and middle eight. The central motif here, “I don’t care about shit”, places it in a nice triptych alongside “fake smile” and “Real Friends,” as an amped-up yet anonymous companion to an arch of carelessness via abandonment.

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4 Responses to “Lee Hi ft. B.I – No One”

  1. Teddy is such garbage can he retire already

  2. @ Iris & Jennifer – Teddy is actually not responsible for this one. But come back when we review Somi’s “Birthday” for a full roast!

    I just missed the deadline on this. Here’s my blurb: Those who didn’t follow Lee Hi’s three-year stint as a featured artist on other people’s tracks would have missed the two tracks she did with producer Code Kunst, “X” and “XI”. In the first, she’s breaking free of a relationship that no longer serves her, while accepting the ways it has changed her. In the second, she returns to that relationship, cynical yet unable to untangle herself from her errant lover. While the idol industry will never give her space to be so candid, she does carry over a level of self-possession that serves “No One” well. Lyrically, it could simply be a young girl daydreaming of someone to love, but her performance tells you that no – she’s a woman looking for someone worthy of her heart. Performed without B.I.’s verse, as it has been in the days since he was revealed to have bought drugs and booted out of YG Entertainment, that’s all you get. But Kim Hanbin gets under the skin of the track and adds a bit more yearning, a bit more desperation and frustration that extends past his verse and weaves itself through the track vi his adlibs. These strengths are balanced out by the averageness of the instrumental. It’s kind of bemusing to hear steel drums and Indian-ish pipes merged without any real cognizance of Indo-Carribean heritage. But also – real steel drums instead of synths! I’ll leave an extra point on for that.

  3. My apologies for the admittedly lazy Teddy slander. And I agree with you, Anjy, that the track is better with B.I. in it.

  4. oh god i want you all to do birthday just so it can get dragged. I appreciate him saving the good music for sunmi but can’t a girl get a real chorus