Itzy’s mini album ‘Checkmate’ describes the battle of being true to yourself, relying on loved ones in tough times

Natasha Ho
  • The K-pop girl group is back with new tunes and raps to inspire you to dance to your own drum and stay strong in challenging situations
  • While some of the beats can get a bit repetitive, ‘Checkmate’ is overall a solid album with a clear story about being yourself and living without regrets
Natasha Ho |

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“Checkmate”, Itzy’s new mini-album, sticks to their core message of self-love and empowerment. Photo: Captured from Twitter

Itzy has cemented its status as one of K-pop’s leading girl groups with the release of its newest mini album “Checkmate”.

The lead track Sneakers advocates self-love and encourages people to stop caring about what others think, bringing to mind similar themes in their earlier songs such as Dalla Dalla or Wannabe.

In the English version of the song, the girls declare: “I dance to my own drum ... I don’t run for no one else”. The instrumentation features bouncy beats and snares that sound like stomping feet, with a lead-up to the chorus that imitates the countdown right before a race begins.

The second song on the album compares the group’s work as artists to a car race – the girls sing: “Now it’s the final lap / Hit it, hit it, breaking records, done”. Starting off with the sound of a revving car and steady drum beats, Racer builds its tension steadily, like fierce competitors biding their time and waiting for the opportunity to strike.

What I Want is about confidence in a chess game of love. In the lyrics, Itzy declares the importance of following your heart and giving your all with no regrets. This theme continues in Free Fall with lyrics about diving head first into a new romance. Both tracks are heavy with passionate raps and soulful refrains accompanied by catchy pop beats.

The album’s plot twist comes in 365 in which Itzy sings about moving on after being dumped by an ex, who is described in the lyrics as a “villain”. The song emphasises not thinking about this ex every day of the year, insisting, “I don’t want to stay the same / I’m much better, babe”. The heavy bass and trap beats are reminiscent of an intense battle scene in a film.

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The final track of the album, Domino, is a heartfelt victory song in which Itzy sings about staying strong as the members support each other. It calls back to the battles described in earlier songs about staying true to themselves. The track stands out from the rest of the album with its warm sound consisting of guitar riffs, light background vocals and a ballad chorus which evokes pop songs from the 2000s.

Itzy’s ultimate strategy involves the support that the members receive from one another even in tough situations.

All in all, “Checkmate” is a solid album that tells a coherent story about staying strong amid life’s many challenges. While some of the songs are tough to distinguish from each other, the sonic consistency builds the story’s tension and draws listeners into the journey.

This album is Itzy’s way of saying “checkmate” to the hardships in their way.

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