Well, this is a pleasant surprise! I try not to have many k-pop blind spots, but ballad group 2AM is just one of those groups I know very little about. In my ignorance, I assumed the members’ musical interest started and ended with ballads (though of course Jo Kwon did have his dancey thing going on a few years ago). I had no idea that Jeong Jin Woon had a solo career, or that his music took influence from rock.
So for me, Will is an absolute revelation from the very start. It’s built on a funk-inspired guitar kick but also includes strong elements of glam and glitter rock, framed with a perfectly utilized brass section. Honestly, I can’t remember any other instance of this exact sound being found in k-pop. That in itself is an utter triumph, but Will is also a damn good song in its own right. Jin Woon brings a palpable sense of cool to his performance. His sneering delivery of the chorus oozes charisma and gives the melody an anthemic energy boost. His gritty vocals recall Winner’s Kang Seung Yoon, who also happens to have given us one of my favorite k-rock tracks of the past several years.
The only aspect I’m not 100% sold on is rapper Tiger JK’s verse. It’s not that hip-hop necessarily feels out of place, but his particular tone and flow feel misused here. A deeper tone (Beenzino?) or something punkier (G-Dragon?) would have really sealed the deal. But the pure fuzzy energy rush of Will is too awesome to be sidetracked for long, and it stands as an utterly refreshing early standout in this lead up to the upcoming summer season.