Girl group Wa$$up are an excellent example of novelty-dependent hype failing to pay off in the long run. Rising to fame as a “twerking” group, the girls debuted in late 2013 amidst a swarm of controversy. Now three and a half years later, the controversy has died down and Wa$$up exist in uncertain territory without an identifiable brand or sound behind them. Unfortunately, a-list fame may be beyond their grasp at this point, but a steady stream of quality output could at least introduce them to untapped audiences.
I’m not sure that “quality” is the best word to describe Color TV. It’s too indebted to its own cuteness for that. But, I’m happy to see the group moving in a new direction with a sound that isn’t just a retread of current trends. Wa$$up are definitely not the first act to hearken back to modern k-pop’s 90’s heyday, but a strong breakbeat and a bit of New Jack Swing are never unwelcome. Color TV aims to be a jubilant throwback, marrying the current aegyo-obssessed girl group landscape with the aggressive instrumentation of tracks by artists like Deux and Seo Taiji & Boys. The mash-up of sounds isn’t entirely successful, and the track’s more saccharine moments feel forced.
But, when Color TV is firing on all cylinders, it’s a blast of upbeat fun. The middle eight dance breakdown is an inspired moment, and the purest recreation of the era the girls are seeking to replicate. In fact, the entire instrumental does a smart job blending elements from past and present, resulting in a track that feels simple and direct. The hip-hop verses are well-executed, if not particularly memorable. With a less grating hook at its core, Color TV could have been an absolute triumph. But even in its current form, the song is a welcome shift just when Wa$$up needs a hit to get themselves back in the game.