Song Review: NINE.i – Neverland

Earlier this year, NINE.i released one of my biggest summer standouts. A large chunk of New Mind‘s success was thanks to the Sweetune-produced magic of its title track Turn It Off, but the entire album was pop excellence. As always, this made me very eager for a follow-up. Luckily, the guys are happy to deliver with digital single Neverland.

Well… not so luckily, because this song is a definite step down from their summer highlights. The production takes a familiar tropical turn, hinging on an instrumental that would’ve been right at home in 2017. It actually feels a bit refreshing in 2023, but this isn’t enough to counteract Neverland‘s dull melodies. Where Turn It Off burst with a carnival funhouse of inventive hooks, Neverland is rather rote. Its chorus hearkens back to 2017/18 in a different way, drawing upon that brief era where K-pop hooks targeted the brittle EDM breakdowns of The Chainsmokers. There’s a certain nostalgia to this, but the song never pushes past these touchstones to become something of its own.

I’m still charmed by NINE.i’s performance, and if we position Neverland as a fan-targeted song rather than a full-fledged comeback, it’s better than most. However, the guys have set their bar high and will now be measured against those glories. A pleasantly generic track like this just doesn’t make much of a dent.






Grade: C+

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