All right, I’ll be honest here. Before listening all the way through DAY6’s newest release—that is to say, after hearing title track “I Like You” a few times but before hearing B-sides “Better Better” and “I’ll Try”—I wrote up a whole paragraph about how “I Like You” was the only possible way for DAY6 to close out their year-long Every DAY6 monthly singles project, because the track solidifies their identity as a self-produced band and is representative of the year’s body of work and a whole bunch of other blather. But I’ve just heard December’s B-sides, and my thoughts on this comeback have changed completely. First of all, I’m shocked that “I’ll Try” even exists—I mean, I don’t even know what to say. I’ll get to that later, I guess. More pertinent, though, is my complete and utter confusion at the fact that “Better Better” is not the title track. This song has everything anyone could want in a title track concluding an incredible twelve-month, twenty-five-song project the likes of which the industry has never seen before—whereas “I Like You,” the actual title, has…maybe half of those things, I’d hazard to say. “I Like You” is a fantastic song, but for me, it was “Better Better” that deserved to wrap up Every DAY6, and I’ll explain why. But before I do go on, I’ve got to emphasize that this comeback was in no way unsuccessful. “I Like You,” “Better Better” and “I’ll Try” are each spectacular tracks in different ways. It’s mind-blowing that these guys’ every comeback is THIS good, but DAY6 has done it yet again.
After hearing “I Like You,” I finally gave up my abiding wish that the final installment of Every DAY6 would be the fierce, fervid, reckless “I Wait” Part 2 that I had been not-so-secretly dreaming of. Of course, there’s no replicating “I Wait.” It’s unique. It stands alone. That’s the whole point of a standout track. The thing about the December Every DAY6 title track is this: “I Like You” is beautiful and vibrant, but it doesn’t have the sheer scale that its position demands—the scale that “I Wait” had, and the scale, as it turns out, that we see in “Better Better.” That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with “I Like You” in itself, because, well, there isn’t. I’m saying that “I Like You” and “Better Better” are two different kinds of songs, and the latter is more suited to the expectations that come from concluding such an incredible project as Every DAY6.
In regards to “I Like You”—boy, it really is a good song. I won’t hesitate to say that this is one of DAY6’s most striking instrumental showings of all time. I’m not referring to composition so much as performance: DAY6 is, of course, a self-produced rock band and plays all their own rock instruments. The song is arranged so that the drums and electric guitar stand out with rich clarity, and almost from the start, you can’t help but notice these instruments as they broaden the boundaries of the mellow melody. All of this comes together with impeccable production to yield a masterpiece, and as always—I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—DAY6’s infallible vocals put the final result over the top.
In addition to all this, there are two more reasons why “I Like You” does in fact suit the position of the final Every DAY6 track. For one thing, you’ve got the feel-good concept (“I like you! I tried to hold it down but I can’t do it anymore,” the chorus declares) that is key to ending the project on a high note. The other reason is that the composition is recognizably DAY6, which is fitting for the end of such an involved project that developed and defined the band’s musical identity in a way that will be integral, I’m sure, to future work.
All that said, the most important thing for Every DAY6 at this point was, logically, to go out with a bang. “I Like You” is not a bang. “Better Better,” though, with its dynamic valleys and peaks, its climbing high notes in the chorus, and its stadium-filling “whoa-oh-oh”s—well, that’s a bang if there ever was one. The way this song builds, and the heights it reaches, are marvelous. The background vocals, including those “whoa”s I mentioned, are vital to the progression of the chorus—in fact, it’s pretty brilliant the way they appear in between phrases to add complexity to the already impressive melody, and then suddenly soar in the background like a broad stroke of dazzling blue sky painted behind a minutely detailed portrait. “Better Better” is a gorgeous feat of skyscraper proportions, and it would have made a stunning conclusion to Every DAY6.
The third new track, “I’ll Try,” is breathtaking, in the literal sense of the word. It’s pure artistry. I always expect some imaginative compositional components from DAY6—an odd chord here, a surprising movement of piano notes there—because these guys consistently push the boundaries of composition, and always with masterful results. However, we don’t hear that compositional strangeness on “Better Better” and “I Like You,” so I was incredibly gratified to hear the delectable composition that is “I’ll Try.” This vocal melody and all the piano elements behind it are exquisite. And again, the raw vocal performance brings that arresting emotionality that is unique to DAY6 to the track. The a cappella break led by Wonpil and fleshed out by the other members’ stark harmonies is just bliss. As the third song of the month in a project where we fans were only expecting two songs per month, “I’ll Try” is simply a gift.
Now that Every DAY6 is over, of course I’m a little sad—I know we all are. I’m sure, though, that this project will go down in Korean music history. I’d like to think that years in the future, when DAY6 is one of the most powerful forces in the industry as they should and will be, we will look back on this year as their defining moment. And after all, DAY6 themselves have not acknowledged any kind of ending: The album compiling all the Every DAY6 songs from the second half of the year is titled “Moonrise,” a name implying the beginning of a new chapter, like the first half of the year’s album “Sunrise” did. DAY6 could have made us sentimental by naming the second album “Sunset,” but treating this comeback as a finale of some sort was not their goal. And of course, the final frame of the “I Like You” music video says only, “The show must go on.” DAY6 wants their fans not to mourn the ending of this exciting year, but to look forward to the next. It does hurt a bit to think that next month at this time we won’t have two new DAY6 tracks to jam to, but the anticipation for their next comeback is twofold knowing that the guys will have more time to plan their next move. (They better take at least a few weeks to rest too—I won’t have my boys burning out!) I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for DAY6, because it’s sure to be spectacular.
I LIKE YOU: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? Oof, I’m a little emotional, the boppiness is so strong.
Take a look at DAY6’s “I Like You” MV below: