Rookie group VAV have released a few songs already, but I didn’t bother writing about them because the music just seemed like a budget version of countless other boy groups. But looking at the production credits for Venus (Dance With Me), I was struck by one name: Ryan S. Jhun. Jhun, alongside a team of writers, has given us a series of brilliant k-pop hits over the past few years. He’s composed quite a lot for SM artists in particular, most recently NCT Dream’s excellent comeback. With someone of that caliber on board, Venus had to be worth a look, right?
Drenched in 80’s nostalgia, the song’s core sound is definitely up my alley. Its rubbery synth bass drives an instrumental awash with stabs of bright electro funk and just the right amount of brass to ground it in real sense of musicianship. It’s a dense, layered sound that gives the song impressive production appeal. VAV have never sounded more high budget, and that’s an important step for a rookie group.
Where Venus takes a step back is its reductive melody. While there are some nice jolts of playfulness in the verses, the chorus swings with an overly familiar progression. The lively instrumental calls for a more syncopated structure, but instead the refrain comes across as flat and repetitive. It seems to borrow more influence from unthreatening, late-80’s adult contemporary than the decade’s more exciting moments. A glimpse of variation pops up during the wordless post-chorus refrain, but this segment is never repeated again. It’s a missed opportunity to accent the smoothness of the song’s main melody with a needed hit of percussive funk.