In their second mini-album since leaving Cube Entertainment and changing their name from the original “Beast,” veteran K-pop group Highlight has returned with their established pop-rock sound in “Celebrate.” After having been through the label switch and losing a member last year, Highlight seems to have decided to leave behind all heartache and commit themselves exclusively to the pursuit of happy vibes. Like March’s “Plz Don’t Be Sad,” title track “Can Be Better” is a load of pure fun.
While the verses of “Can Be Better” roll along more or less complacently, the chorus is a jam, with a solid melody anchoring go-with-the-flow lyrics that urge the listener to remember, “I have no choice, can’t hang onto the things that have left me. This moment and pain will pass.” Though the hook is great, the highlight (HA) of the song for me was the ever-so-brief blink of a bridge before the last refrain. Here the upbeat cheerfulness takes a breather just long enough for a surprisingly tender moment to pass through. “I grew up over time, but I am still clumsy at everything,” sings member Dongwoon over a sweetly strumming acoustic guitar. It’s a powerful moment that reminds us that even though life may never go just the way we want it to, we have to learn how to “laugh out loud” anyway.
No, “Can Be Better” doesn’t make any efforts to be original or creative, but why should it? Highlight is just doing Highlight here, as you can tell from the infectiously silly mood of the music video and the members’ lighthearted smiles in the live stages. The rest of the album is the same: it makes no big moves, but you forgive that because it’s entertaining. The slightly tropical “Take on Me” is especially enjoyable, with a cool, crisp melody and excellent phrasing in the rhythmic lyrics.
In “Celebrate,” Highlight has come to let go of their worries and live life better. The members’ personalities shine through in the sincerity of the concept, and the result is infectious. It’s great to see Highlight enjoying themselves so much and know that they’re doing what they want.
CAN BE BETTER: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? A sure bop.
Take a look at Highlight’s “Can Be Better” MV below: