Long before I started covering k-pop exclusively, I learned the importance of following songwriters and producers, rather than just focusing on artists and groups. After all, a song doesn’t pop into the universe from out of nowhere. Even though a bias group may be able to elevate it with their talent and performance style, the same can be said about the behind-the-scenes team. An excellent producer can boost a rookie artist by supplying them with an A+ song.
With this in mind, I was anticipating DIA’s newest title track. It’s composed by Seo Young Bae and Iggy, who have created all of Gfriend’s singles, Astro’s fantastic debut, and many other strong pop songs from the past few years. For me, they’re the next-gen production team I anticipate most. DIA, on the other hand, left me ambivalent with their debut last year. It’s clear they’re working within a budget here, as On The Road (그 길에서) sounds very much like a GFriend cast-off. It retains much of what I love about Young Bae & Iggy’s sound. Its sparkling synths and soft, galloping beat are tied together with a bright, polished pop melody. But, the hooks are dulled this time around, peaking at about half of what we get with songs like Rough and Hide & Seek.
Every producer has their title track-worthy material and songs that are better suited as album filler. Unfortunately, On The Road just isn’t strong enough to lead an album campaign. That’s not to say it’s a total failure. I would probably enjoy it more within the context of a cohesive album. But, it really doesn’t possess any memorable hook, and DIA don’t have a Yuju-like vocal powerhouse like GFriend does, so even the delivery feels flat and forgettable. It’s the definition of cotton candy music: pretty and sweet on the outside, but lacking any lasting nourishment once the beat stops.