In general, k-pop is in a transitional place right now. The old guard is slowly being taken over by the current crop of super rookies. With the likes of GFriend and Twice making such waves, what does a group like Apink do to prove that they’re still young and relevant? It’s a tough question, and one that I’m not sure they’ve completely answered.
Only One (내가 설렐 수 있게) has got to be one of the strangest comebacks from a major artist this year. When I heard that Black Eyed Pilseung would be composing, I expected Apink to be going down the Twice route in an attempt to compete with their juniors. Instead, Only One is an oddly midtempo affair, painting the girls as the elder stateswomen that they are. The nature of the song’s composition makes it sound like it was meant to be an uptempo GFriend dance workout that somehow got slowed to an r&b slow jam. The melody is wordier and more crammed than the beat suggests, and the touches of electric guitar and beat-heavy verses give the sense that the track wants to take off. Had the tempo been shifted up, Only One would actually be an outstanding single, more than capable of standing proudly in k-pop’s current musical climate.
Instead, the song is more of a head-scratcher than anything else. The melody itself is completely effective — especially the anthemic English refrain — and I like that the instrumentation borrows some of the new jack swing influence from their 2014 single, Luv. But it’s crying out for a remix. Pairing a high energy melody with low energy production just doesn’t work, and makes Only One as frustrating as it is enjoyable.