Given the purpose behind this track, I was bracing myself for a gag song, more concerned with cameos than music. Though I love Conan O’Brien, I definitely didn’t need him singing in a kpop single. Luckily, his portion of the audio is limited to a lame spoken intro (which honestly should have been kept exclusive to the music video). Beyond that, we’ve got another strong, retro party track from JYP.
Like Wonder Girls’ I Feel You last year, Fire is a total 80’s pastiche. From its analog synth beat to its programmed drums, the instrumental isn’t so much an ode as it is a total copy. This is bound to turn some listeners off, but as a child of the 80’s, it’s a welcome concept for me. The moment Wonder Girls and Twice burst in with their catchy refrains during Fire’s first verse, I was pretty much sold. Similarly, the chorus is a cauldron of hooks, starting with that high pitched scream of a vocal effect and capped with a ridiculously catchy (and just plain ridiculous) ad lib. Once the electric guitar solo rears its head, it’s clear that Fire has completely surrendered to its own retro indulgences.
Yes, it’s all pretty stupid, and those with an aversion to this sound will likely dismiss it as such, but like JYP’s other release this weekend, it’s stupid with skill behind it. This is what makes the difference. Beneath the gratuitous cameos and parodies, Fire is a solid pop song with solid musicianship. JYP’s music has often been indebted to the 80’s, but never has he gone this far before. It’s as if pairing with someone like Conan allowed him the chance to indulge in his “guilty pleasure” side. But I’ll take it. He’s two for two this weekend, supplying a double shot of goofy fun to 2016’s kpop slate.