First Impressions: Infinite H’s “Without You” ft. Zion.T

Infinite splinter group Infinite H gives you their second single off their debut album, “Without You”! (Also spelled “Without U”, also spelled “w/o u”.)

While Infinite is actually a pretty popular group in Korea right now, I have been far from one of their staunch supporters. However, with the case of Infinite H, I am all in. It’s like they culled out everything I didn’t like, completely changed their sound to something appealing, and are suddenly entertaining to me! Interestingly enough, I also enjoyed Kim Sung Kyu’s 60sec, so it seems like I like most of the individual pieces of Infinite. For whatever reason, when the group is together they all blend into some kind of dull Asian boy hybrid that has zero appeal to me. But “Without You” is a whoooooooole ‘nother story.

Infinite H Without U Dongwoo Hoya

You may have noticed that I enjoy listening to K-pop songs that have a certain vibe to them, like Yoseob’s “Caffeine”. “Without You” is like the slightly more upbeat, slightly cooler version of “Caffeine”, and I’m feeling it. It’s smooth and has a great vibe/mood, plus the “Nee-guh oppseuldeeeeEEEeeeeh” part is extremely catchy. Zion.T is an excellent addition for this song, as his voice is unique and emotive, with an appealing whine. I’m singing it right now; be glad you’re not here to experience it with me. While “Special Girl” contained a similar vibe in its verses, they chose to go with an upbeat, traditional pop chorus. However, the second release has actually fully committed to the more mature, more hip-hop/R&B oriented sound that is characteristic of the entire album as a whole.

The understated dance in the video reflects the smooth, relaxed atmosphere of the song:

Infinite H Without You Dongwoo Hoya Dance

OK, this is a poor approximation of movement, but I enjoyed it so much that I had to add it in.

The music video as a whole tries to approximate the song’s successful attempt at producing a combination of smooth and hip-hop music. On one hand, we see the boys gesturing in front of a brightly colored graffiti wall, in equally colorful paint-splattered suits. The room is either a colorful graphic explosion or a serial killer/stalker’s den:

"I WON'T LIVE WITHOUT YOU."

“I WON’T LIVE WITHOUT YOU.”

A fun look, if you don’t think about it too hard and wonder who even took them to that scary room in the first place, but where I run into problems is on the other side of the coin. When the boys aren’t dancing or hanging out around graffiti, we’re instead treated to a number of music video cliches. I think this is supposed to be the “smooth”, “classy” side of the song, but instead I find myself rolling my eyes at the tropes littered throughout. For instance, white suits on white backgrounds, roses on fire, ornamental skulls, geometric backgrounds, and people sitting in regal throne-chairs trying to look G. Also, who can forget the SHATTERED GLASS/JAR? No K-pop MV is complete without it:

I have NEVER seen this set to music before.

I have NEVER seen this set to music before.

After watching this video and “Special Girl”, I have to agree with Callipygia’s claim that Dongwoo really steals the show in this duo; he’s incredibly charismatic and has significant talent in the rap department. Sure, Hoya is the “cute” one, but I think it’s made him lazy. He knows he’s good-looking and just stares broodily at the camera. (He could also be a cyborg incapable of displaying human emotion.) Take these examples of Hoya displaying his impressive range (Get ready for a massive picture dump):

"Scandalized" Hoya

“Scandalized” Hoya

"Roided Up" Hoya

“Roided Up” Hoya

On the other hand, with Dongwoo you get true range:

Aw.

Aw.

He’s kind of the exact opposite end of the spectrum, however, because his facial expressions are really a crapshoot:

I'M SORRY BUT I COULDN'T SAY NO TO POSTING THIS.

I’M SORRY BUT I COULDN’T SAY NO TO POSTING THIS

I feel kind of bad for Zion.T, though, because I think he might be a bit insecure and actually tried to hide his face for like 50% of the video. I’m not even exaggerating when I say this. This was his most frequent look:

I could recognize that face anywhere.

I could recognize that face anywhere.

PHEW. Sorry for the vomit of pictures I just laid upon you, but I wanted to demonstrate my point. Mainly that I find Dongwoo to be massively more compelling than Hoya. Don’t get me wrong, Hoya is talented and a terrific dancer, but it takes a certain someone to have that “It” factor.

Overall, if it wasn’t apparent already, I’m extremely impressed with “Without You”. I really have no complaints about the song, but it definitely has a sound that may not resonate with every listener. As a whole, the music video is interesting visually but falls into some classic Kpop cliches that I could really do without. I assume there will be at most one more promotional video released for this album, if at all, but I will definitely be watching if there is one. And it might even compel me to finish listening to an entire Infinite song for once.

SONG: A

VIDEO: B+

(INTRODUCING GRADES! So that you get a clear impression of how we really feel, we here at KPWOP have decided to introduce a ratings system. It’s a really basic system. Basically A-F, for song and video. Callipygia can grade as she sees fit, but this is my rudimentary and completely uninteresting system. (I considered another rating system using a spectrum of my favorite to least-favorite groups, but I thought that would incite a lot of hate and probably deep confusion. BTW, if you’re wondering, Big Bang would be equivalent to an A and Hyuna would be an F. NO OFFENSE INTENDED.) It’s all for YOU, readers. Our 2 readers. If there’s enough demand I can also do exactly calibrated numerical scores out of 100.)

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