After two years with a stranglehold on the charts, AOA have had a difficult year in Korea. So, it makes sense that they’d put renewed focus on their Japanese career with the release of Wow War Tonight. The song sounds nothing like the two original j-pop singles they’ve given us thus far, but that’s actually to its credit.
Wow War Tonight‘s understated synth backbone is in line with some of the more 80’s inspired tracks the group has given us of late, and it’s brilliantly suited to the girls’ voices. Though War is uptempo, its melody has a more intentional feel than most of AOA’s dance tracks. Gone are the incessant shouts and ad-libs present in their Brave Brothers material. Instead, Way galvanizes through the strength of its oft-repeated, subtly anthemic hook. That said, the song is at least a minute too long, and it’s clear even from the first listen exactly which portion should have been omitted.
Leader and rapper Jimin is one of the group’s most popular members, and without any hip-hop influence, War doesn’t give her much to do. I assume because of this, the song shoehorns in a truly grating middle eight. This isn’t a particularly uncommon thing for k-pop or j-pop, but it really doesn’t work here. The song’s surging melodicism relies on an ever-building structure to deliver its knockout punch, but when the rap break hits after the second chorus, that momentum is violently interrupted by an unpleasant and unnecessary dubstep attack. The song still reaches its ultimate goal relatively unscathed, but it would have been an absolutely outstanding entry in their discography had they stuck to their guns and decided not to try to cover so many bases.