Thus far, FNC Entertainment has been known primarily for its rock groups FTIsland and CNBLUE, as well as girl group AOA (who technically started with a band concept). Much… erm… “fanfare” has been made around the debut of the agency’s first male dance act, SF9. Debuts are a tricky thing, and often end up being more of a red herring in a group’s career than their defining moment. I hope this is the case for SF9 as well, because Fanfare (팡파레) is an oddly underwhelming first step into the idol world.
Rather than jumping on the more lighthearted trend of 2016, Fanfare approximates the “aren’t we cool” hip-hop that seemed to define nearly every boy group debut around 2014-2015. Within this overstuffed genre, the song slots safely in middle ground — not making any missteps but also failing to distinguish itself as unique. The entire track is built around a mildly annoying wordless motif that sounds more like teasing and taunting than actually proving the group’s mettle. The times when Fanfare deviates from this formula are its strongest moments, such as the second (more melodic) half of the chorus.
Unfortunately, it’s too little — buried in too much — to really stand out. I have complete confidence that the guys will correct course as FNC figures out what to do with them. After all, AOA’s first few releases were a hodgepodge of ideas before they struck it big working with Brave Brothers. SF9 deserves the same attention, matching them with a production team that can establish a unique and meaningful sound. As of now, Fanfare feels like a whole lot of braggadocio without much of a tune to back it up.