As the whole I.O.I saga comes to a close, I still struggle to understand why the group’s phenomenal popularity just didn’t resonate as strongly with me. After all, I loved Produce 101 and was primed to support the girls’ output as they embarked on their year-long promo, but other than Very Very Very (which added another nice bit of novelty to this post-Twice k-pop world), their music mostly left me cold. Given this, it makes sense that Downpour (소나기) doesn’t hit me with the same emotional catharsis that it likely elicits from the group’s hardcore fans. As a farewell/thank you track, it wasn’t really written with a listener like me in mind anyway.
This all makes the song difficult to review, as the bulk of its appeal is tethered to a strong investment in the group themselves. But even as a swan song, I think the powers-that-be could have gifted the girls with something a little more rousing. I remember reading that this last release was rumored to be a Jinyoung-produced track. That would have been a real treat, as his lush, sweeping sound might have seen the group off on a high note. Instead, Downpour is co-composed by Seventeen’s Woozi. He’s no slouch in the producer game either, supplying us with some of last year’s best pop tracks.
But unfortunately, Downpour never strays from its basic piano/acoustic guitar ballad template. It has a sorrowful sound — almost funereal in places — that feels ceremonial in a wistful, end-credits-to-a-drama way. On the plus side, the song does a solid job highlighting the girls’ vocals, which weren’t always as prominent on their more bubblegum tracks. I guess I just wish I.O.I would have ended this highly successful journey the way they started it: with fists in the air and k-pop guns blazing.
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