Solo female pop artists are incredibly difficult to launch in Korea. Just ask Shannon Williams, who really should be on her way to becoming the next BoA rather than fighting for her last chance on this season of K-Pop Star. As much as Korea loves its girl groups, that sentiment doesn’t seem to extend to solo singers within the same genre. But Cha Yoonji (operating under the bafflingly simplistic stage moniker “I”) arrives with some pedigree. She’s a longtime trainee with WM Entertainment, and the sister of B1A4‘s Baro.
Unfortunately, her debut single doesn’t quite match the promise she shows as an artist. While WM have been doing an amazing job giving their girl group Oh My Girl lively pop songs that burst with creativity, I Wish (간절히 바라면 이뤄질 거야) feels like it wants to break out of the box but can’t quite get past its relatively small sound. The song flirts between its midtempo verses and more sprightly chorus. Its instrumental does a nice job pulling from both the indie and pop worlds, conjuring a quirky series of electronic blips and bleeps that enhance an otherwise standard beat.
Yoonji has a pleasant tone, but she’s never really allowed to show off throughout I Wish. Its melody plays it close to the center, keeping things pleasant and smooth when it would be better off building to more interesting climaxes. Tiger JK’s rap verse breaks things up momentarily, but the entire song could have done with more diversity. Cha Yoonji is certainly one to watch, and I have incredible faith in WM to smartly manage her career, but I hope her music makes a stronger mark next time around.