South Korea has its first openly gay idol and, thankfully, the song doesn’t suck.
Neverland, it is fair to say, is not going to be for everyone. This is one of those pop tracks that has a lot of R&B elements that make it a hard listen for those who don’t have a love of the genre. It’s down-tempo and doesn’t feature the more modern bombastic basslines that tend to come with tracks like this to make them appeal to an audience that craves bops. It is very confident in its existence, though, and never feel wishy-washy on its sound, making it a good listen for those who want to give it a chance.
One thing that we really appreciate is the singer coming with a full natural voice for the duration of the track. Given the nature of the beat, a plethora of autotune wouldn’t have been a good fit for this, but that hasn’t stopped other artists from putting it in anyway. He has a nice tone with a lower tenor range that has good tone and some color. There are moments that he has a bit of a Keith Sweat whine, but it never gets annoying and is balanced out in other parts of the song.
There was some fear (based on the teaser trailer) that Holland wouldn’t be vocally on par with his peers and…we can see where that fear stemmed from. The thing is, we’re not entire sure it’s his fault. While listening to this track on our better speaker setup, we detected moments where the mixing seemed really off. At first we thought that Holland was having trouble with some of the deeper notes, but he does fine with the same range in other parts of the song. It could be that he was going for something that didn’t work, but it could also be a problem that could be solved with a remaster. We won’t know for sure until we get a second track and a couple of live stages for comparison.
As for the visual, there is something very…not exploitative about this. When we heard that the video would display a gay relationship–INCLUDING A KISS–we were worried that the genuineness of the track could be lost in something that was meant to exploit the situation for views and controversy (and the situation in-country is controversial enough). Instead, what we got was something earnest and shows two people having real interactions that couples have…one of which just happens to involve a kiss. We’re glad this is the route they went and it makes us feel better about how they are going to treat Holland as an artist overall.