I never found the time to review The Solutions’ July single Ticket To The Moon, even though I found it to be a summer highlight. Korea isn’t exactly known for its rock music, and The Solutions’ particular brand of synthy indie pop is even more unique in the world of k-pop. Paired with Lovelyz’ main vocal Kei forges an even rarer k-pop phenomenon — a male/female duet that is not a ballad or midtempo.
Beautiful is ebullient from the start, kicking off with power pop riffs and gorgeous synth arpeggios. It’s a cotton candy swirl of 80’s-inspired bliss — the perfect antidote to these dreary fall days. Kei trades off lines with The Solutions’ vocalist, Park Sol, during the verses before the two come together for the fist-pumping chorus. It’s complete sing-into-your-hairbrush cheese, but you know how I love a bit of cheese in my music. I’m also always on the lookout for a chorus that feels fully formed and climactic. Beautiful has that in spades, as blitzes of drum fills add a series of exclamation points to an already exclamatory, euphoric melody.
This unique collaboration comes about as part of YG’s sub-label Highgrnd, which itself has a sort of sub-label in Playgrnd. Confused yet? You should be, because Beautiful is a remarkably different sound for the usually hip-hop heavy label. And although Epik High’s Tablo has credit as one of the song’s lyricists, Beautiful veers much closer to Lovelyz and The Solutions’ typical style than anything you’d expect to even be tangentially related to YG. It’s a bit of a question mark, but in the best way possible.