Apink have come to the stage in their career where they can release anything and it will become, at the very least, a moderate hit. I’m sure this is the goal for any idol group, but it presents its own challenges as well. So often, veteran groups (both k-pop and otherwise) fall into the trap of coasting on their goodwill rather than continually striving to reinvent themselves and their genre as a whole.
Judging by 2016’s releases, Apink are not immune to this pitfall. September’s Only One was pleasant, if a bit forgettable. Cause You’re My Star re-teams the group with producers Duble Sidekick, who attempt to recreate the energy of past hits like Mr. Chu. But, the end result feels too hollow and repetitive to make much of a mark. The track kicks off at a sprightly pace, with a generic dance beat that quickly transitions to a slower tempo. This is the song’s first mistake. It’s as if they were trying to drain the energy during the verses. Presumably, this was to help the energetic chorus stick out more clearly, but instead it just drags the entire track down. A more inventive melody would have helped remedy this, but Star‘s is about as run-of-the-mill as you can get.
For a group who built their career on a series of bright, hooky pop tracks, Star feels like a dull footnote — a b-side of a b-side. It’s a shame, because I’m glad to hear them moving back to more upbeat territory. Apink clearly know their sound, and Star fits right into their repertoire. But, the group has developed too big a fan base to simply retread through past glories. They could really push the boundary and pull it off, ensuring their continued relevance for the next generation of k-pop fans. I’m afraid that songs like this will only have the opposite effect.