After two weeks of pre-releases, Paradise marks the official title track of Hyolyn’s new mini album. Teasers promised something more uptempo and hip-hop influenced, and Paradise delivers in that regard, sounding like a cross between her work with Sistar and resident bad girl HyunA’s solo material.
The song steams along quite promisingly during its initial verse and pre-chorus, moving at an addictive, sprightly pace that allows Hyolyn’s vocals to straddle the line between singing and rapping. But once we hit the main hook, things collapse. The built up energy is sabotaged by a flimsy instrumental break that sounds like someone opening and closing a squeaky door in desperate need of oil. I can think of no better comparison for this utterly bizarre hook. I feel like I’m constantly complaining about songs that remove an actual chorus in favor of some loopy instrumental, but it’s not always an inherently bad move. As long as the wordless hook provides some sort of climax, I’m totally okay with it. What I can’t stand is when energy from verses and pre-choruses is simply wasted. Paradise‘s production choices are a particularly egregious example of this.
What makes it even more frustrating is that the song builds quite a bit of goodwill with its quirky melody. Hyolyn sounds more playful than she has in awhile, helped along by a sugar rush of pop-informed hooks. If Paradise had stuck to one genre and carried it out to its full potential, it could have been incredibly strong. Instead, the noisy production is just too much, turning the track into a hodgepodge of elements fighting for dominance until none of them really end up working.