Apink have been releasing material in Japan since 2014, but have thus far found more success with covers of their Korean hits than entirely original songs. Within this context, new single Bye Bye makes a lot of sense. Though it is an original track for the j-pop market, the song touches on elements of the group’s k-pop discography far more heavily than more traditional Japanese girl group fare.
Because of this, Bye Bye feels like a natural successor to last September’s mature, midtempo Only One. The song is even produced by k-pop mainstay Shinsadong Tiger, who has crafted several hit songs for the girls in the past. Its light, New Jack Swing beat and post-chorus instrumental refrain echoes past title tracks like Luv and NoNoNo. But unfortunately Bye Bye feels like just that — an echo. It’s a perfectly serviceable springtime bop, but neither its chorus nor instrumental are as potent as the group’s best material.
The song is built around a repetitive swirl of a chorus that will feel instantly familiar to anyone who has listened to Apink’s music in the past. The sound is well-matched to the girls’ smooth vocals, but the melody’s lockstep structure never allows for any interesting peaks or diversions that might have given the track a looser, funkier vibe. I’m actually surprised that Shinsadong Tiger has crafted such a limp instrumental. His best work possesses an addictive energy and drive. For both him and the girls, Bye Bye feels more like a b-side than the next great step in their Japanese career.