Three mini-albums, one music show win, and multiple New Artist Awards: this, and more, are what CRAVITY have achieved since their debut in April 2020 – despite not being able to meet their fans in person yet due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their acceleration towards these milestones over the past 14 months alone have led the boy group – consisting of Serim, Allen, Jungmo, Woobin, Wonjin, Minhee, Hyeongjun, Taeyoung and Seongmin – to be dubbed ‘Monster Rookies’ in the K-pop scene.
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The group, whose ages range between 18 to 22, now mark a new stage in their musical journey with ‘The Awakening: Written In The Stars’, part one of their first full-length album. Per a press statement, the record is “a story of the members achieving maturity through pain or traumas from the past, and finding pure emotions along the way”. Majority of the eight tracks in the release were written, composed and/or arranged by PCDC (said to be a collective of producers put together to create songs ‘Produced for Cravity, Directed for Cravity’, as Allen shared in the group’s VLIVE), with rappers Serim and Allen also contributing verses to two songs.
Riding on the automobile theme last heard in their ‘Season 3. Hideout: Be Our Voice’ single ‘My Turn’, which arrived earlier this year, CRAVITY narrow in on one very important auto part for this title track: the humble but powerful ‘Gas Pedal’. Said to embody the group’s growth over the course of their journey, the song’s groovy beats kick in like a revving car or motorbike, much like the accompanying music video, with Serim and Allen fuelling the song further with their self-written rap verses and powerful delivery.
That, and the collective repetition of ‘gas pedal’ should have been enough to propel the guys straight into the horizon; but instead, there are cautious turns, or ‘swerves’ as the guys whisper in the chorus, that tone it down. Serim eventually takes the power up a notch again towards the end with his energetic bars, coupled with the ‘gas pedal’ refrain – only to have the ignition be cut as the song closes. While it’s understandable that the producers could have wanted to switch things up with the track – the collective refrain technique has been used in numerous K-pop songs, such as EXO’s ‘Wolf’ and NCT U’s ‘BOSS’ – ‘Gas Pedal’ doesn’t quite push through to its true potential as hoped.
On the other hand, the interestingly-named ‘CHINGA LINGA’ – which, despite its name, bears no resemblance to Big Bang member Taeyang’s 2014 solo hit single ‘RINGA LINGA’ – is evenly powered throughout, from its opening beats to its consistent collective chorus. There seems to also be a slight ‘Wolf’ influence here, in the raps heard in the track’s second half, which are prefaced by a – surprise – wolf’s howl.
Another song that could have been much more is ‘Celebrate’. It comes with an extra dose of attitude, as inferred from its English lyrics (“Haters gonna hate / They’ve got issues with ballers” and “They tell me sky’s the limit but I’m up by satellite”), but its overall feel seems a tad muted and milder than what its title suggests. It’s then followed by the upbeat ‘Grand Prix’, which is indeed a track deserving of its title. The members of CRAVITY hit the right notes here with its level of fanfare, a measure of what ‘Celebrate’ could have, and probably should have been.
With the regal-sounding ‘VENI, VIDI, VICI’ (Latin for ‘I Came, I Saw, I Conquered’), a saying most commonly attributed to Roman general Julius Caesar, there is an unusual contrast of ideas within the chorus itself. While the line “Veni, Vidi, Vici, that’s my world” seems to suggest some sort of finality, the guys later go on to sing about how “There are still things that I want to do” – and rightly so, seeing how they’re all just at the cusp of their youth, with much more of life to explore and discover, as well as their own identity and growing musicality.
This youthful spirit is possibly the reason that the last two tracks of the album work the best. The tropical house-infused ‘Divin’ is all about seizing the moment: grab that swimming costume, head to the beach, dive in and enjoy a leisurely dip in the sea while summer lasts. As for ‘GO GO’, the guys encapsulate the #YOLO spirit in this smooth, bossa nova-inspired finale: “We could go, go anywhere / If you wanna go, just run away / You don’t have to worry / Just take my hand / Don’t be uncomfortable”. There is a distinct shift to calmer vocals in this tune, and along with the guys’ palatable harmonies, it’s a perfect fit for the vibe – making for a pleasant enough round-off to the album.
“I think that with each album, we’re finding more and more of our own colour,” Wonjin said in a group interview with No Cut News at the start of this year. Even as CRAVITY continue to explore and pursue the possibilities throughout their musical journey, one thing’s for sure: they should embrace their adolescent ideals while they still can, and ensure that it gets channelled into their music.
After all, it’s what shines the most in ‘The Awakening: Written In The Stars’. Hopefully, it’ll be something that they’ll remember: that even as they grow, they should continue to stay true to who they are as they enjoy their moment. And right now, it’s in relishing every bit that their youth has to offer.
- Release date: August 19
- Record label: Starship Entertainment