Oh, GOT7. How I used to love you when you recorded songs with actual choruses. I still have great fondness for the group, but ever since they embarked on this year-long Flight Plan project, there’s been a noticeable change in their music. To say that the past three singles have been completely devoid of memorable refrains is a bit of an over-exaggeration, but there’s no denying that the guys have moved towards a more lumbering hip-hop sound that jettisons much of what made them quirky and interesting back in their first two years together.
Though the group has received more composing credits, this new style really comes down to one contributor. Production team earattack have been responsible for this trilogy of singles and, try as I might, their brand of blustering, fitful r&b/hip-hop is just not for me. Fair enough if GOT7 themselves prefer it — and it’s obviously done wonders for the group’s popularity — but this transformation into a more generic boy group sound has robbed their music of that playful spark that made it so engaging. New single Never Ever is a co-write with producer (and agency head) Park Jin Young, but his unique brand of funk is almost entirely missing. You can hear glimpses of it in the song’s bouncy, electronic verses, which give the guys a chance to display an almost improvisational charm. This works to their advantage, though Jackson’s overly boisterous delivery feels at odds with the more nuanced instrumental. Up until the chorus, things unfold quite promisingly.
And then there’s the hook. This is where so many boy group songs can go wrong. Never Ever makes a sharp turn, casting away its nimble electro beat for a dramatic dubstep-meets-future bass lurch. The first time through, this sudden shift feels like it ruins the entire track. Repeated listens give it more continuity, but it’s still a missed opportunity. It’s not that the chorus is particularly bad — it’s just too simplistic and tuneless to have any lasting impact. The guys sound great, but the jerky beat keeps them grounded. The melody is never allowed to soar. Where are the off-kilter hooks of Just Right, or the sweeping richness of If You Do? I know that GOT7 is primarily a hip-hop group, but it feels like their vocalists haven’t been given much to do on a title track since 2015. Now that their metaphorical plane has finally landed, I hope they branch out to new composers for the next step in their career.