On November 25th, Kang Daniel released his much anticipated single album ‘Touchin’. This is the first comeback since his solo debut with the mini album ‘Color On Me’ in July. During the 4 month break between music releases, he was finally able to end the legal dispute between him and his previous company LM thanks to the Korea Entertainment Management Association (CEMA), who concluded that LM can no longer interfere with Daniel’s promotional activities in his new agency, Konnect Entertainment. Unlike during his debut, for this comeback he was able to schedule music show and TV variety show appearances, signaling freedom and hope for many other artists facing struggles due to their companies trying to sabotage and exploit them. There are two tracks in the single album, the title track ‘Touchin’ and the B-side ‘Adulthood’ which is written by Daniel himself. Compared to ‘Color on Me’, ‘Touchin’ has a more classy concept, and this change was expected from the teaser photos and video. It has to be said that while the concept is more mature, it was not to the extent of what you might expect from the teasers and the title of the album itself.

Touchin’ is a mix of EDM, Pop, Rock, and Dance. From the beginning, there is a hook with xylophone sounds which stays in the background throughout the first verse. The most memorable lyrics are during the first verse when he sings at 1:37-1:38, ‘the eyes of the two of us met’. This seems to be the message of the song— eye contact is all that is needed to get to know one another. I like the variations in his vocal tone throughout the song. He has a high vocal tone in the first verse 1:28-1:43, which changes to a lower and gentler tone during the chorus. The chorus is outstanding due to his soft vocals as well as the funky groove sounds and impactful bass. The guitar riffs at 2:04-2:19 also strengthened the chorus. My favorite part is his high note towards the end of the choruses when he sings ‘Whoo hoo’ at 3:11-3:12 and at 3:24-3:25. It gave me Michael Jackson vibes.

The MV was top quality and very entertaining to watch. I felt that I was watching a Hong Kong action movie. It also shows Daniel’s duality: you can see his goofy, homebody side as well as his mature side. It starts off with him at home, wearing a hoodie and pajama pants, turning on the VCR to see the movie on the TV screen. In the movie, there’s a female co-conspirator, a male villain and Kang Daniel himself, who is wearing a classy suit. They’re in a warehouse playing Mahjong (1:18-1:19). I like the parts at 1:58 and 2:03, when he shows triumph at winning the Mahjong game. He was a good actor throughout the MV, but those scenes stood out to me the most. By winning the game, he gains a suitcase of money (2:14), and the co-conspirator accompanies him. Meanwhile, the homebody Daniel (the one watching this whole movie scene) orders pizza, and the pizza delivery man is none other than the villain in the movie. The MV attempts to draw a parallel between the real life and the movie by portraying Daniel and the villain in both the worlds. I like the background color contrast between the two: the present dimension is shown in colors while the movie is shown in black and white (kind of like what you might see in movies from the 70’s and 80’s).

It’s interesting to note that you can never see the villain’s whole face throughout the MV. He is partially covered with either sunglasses, hats or both, therefore giving a mysterious vibe. Returning back to the movie, Daniel’s co-conspirator runs away and the idol rides on a motorcycle in an attempt to chase her. He finally finds her, but she is accompanied by the villian who attempts to shoot him. Seeing the bullet fly, Daniel who is watching the scene (3:28-3:35) gets nervous and spills Tabasco sauce over himself, which is a humorous way of symbolizing that there will be blood. It has to be said that I was tense while watching the whole bullet scene. Surprisingly, the Daniel in the movie didn’t get shot, instead it was the villain who did. The idol was wearing black suits throughout the choreographies in the MV, however at the end he was wearing white to signal the brighter ending of the dark but humorous movie. The MV had a brilliant plot, and I was at the edge of my seat wondering what the film’s outcome would be. The choreography was great, and he uses a lot of hand movements to convey his emotions and confidence. This made me anticipate watching his actual stage performances in music shows and end of the year award shows. All the background dancers were also good.

Overall, ‘Touchin‘ is a bop I would highly recommend. The chorus is captivating, and his vocals suit the song well. To be honest, I enjoyed it more than his previous title track ‘What are you up to.

MV: 9.5/10
Song: 8.5/10

Adulthood’ is a R&B and dance track (co-written by Daniel) that expresses his struggles while going through adulthood. This is a chill, laidback song that is pleasant to listen to. He expresses comfort to his fellow adults dealing with responsibilities who at the same time want to stay as kids. I like his vocals. It had a high but smooth tone. And the acoustic instrumental that plays in the background throughout the song, is also great. The lyrics are relatable as he sings ‘We always act according to plans, stay away a little’ at 1:05-1:09 and ‘All the attention looking at me, oh i don’t wanna rush, i don’t want to live in a hurry’ at 1:25-1:32. He expresses his thoughts about all the attention given to him. He is 22 and there’s still a kid in him, however he was forced to grow up when he had to take up the position of CE0 in his own company while going through legal disputes with his former one. He also advises at the same time to not always act according to plan, and live freely. He thinks he shouldn’t live in a hurry but instead enjoy life a little, and he urges the audience to do the same. He connects with the listeners when he sings at 2:20-2:24 ‘Join me in the air, I think I’ve become an adult for a moment’. In addition, he advises others to ‘try turning the phone off for a moment’ 2:36-2:38. It is nice to have a phone, but it is sometimes good to stay free from it, as people tend to be too tied up on it. My favorite part is his high notes at 2:02-2:05 when he sings ‘being scared all day long’. It shows that at times, he is scared about the real life. He is an adult, but at the same time not ready to be one. He is emotional in his struggles of going through adulthood. He speaks to the listeners when he asks ‘how do you feel right now’ at 1:53-1:55, and ‘how we’re feeling yeah, don’t know where we’re going’ at 2:40-2:45. He understands and empathizes with the audience who are going through similar struggles as a young adult.

Song: 8.75/10

Overall, I highly recommend this album. There are only two songs, but they’re both very solid and it shows how Daniel has evolved as an artist. I like how he effectively shows his high and low vocal tones, which are both charming to listen to. It truly shows his transformation as he deals with adulthood. While his previous album’s theme was colorfulness and his desire to paint his colors, this album shows that he has now established his colors as an artist. The concepts are more mature this time, as expected from his growth as a young CEO managing his own entertainment company, who has persevered through a series of legal disputes. He has bounced back from the setbacks and has returned stronger with this release. This album made me look forward to his future releases, and the concepts he’ll show us as an iconic solo singer and songwriter.