When Sechs Kies first signed with YG Entertainment, it was hard to imagine what their new music would sound like. They were one of the defining k-pop groups of the late 90’s, known for hard hitting dance tracks and delicate, mid-tempo singalongs. As with any comeback from a first generation band, I would have hoped for an updated, modernized version of their classic sound. But rather than give an ode to what made them such a force twenty years ago, Sechs Kies has been shoehorned into the standard YG house style.
Not everyone may agree, but over the past few years YG Entertainment has felt like an agency running out of ideas. They rely so heavily on a small group of composers that all their material starts to sound the same. Be Well (아프지 마요) could have just as easily been performed by Winner, iKON, or even Big Bang and sounded roughly the same. The song begins like every other recent YG ballad, with plaintive singing over a minimalist, moody instrumental. It’s a template that works, but it’s beginning to sound quite stale. Almost every element in Be Well can be predicted far in advance. Its melody takes familiar turns; its delivery does not feel unique to Sechs Kies.
This is in contrast to the group’s 90’s work, which often felt raucous and unrestrained in its ambition and energy. Yes, the guys are older now, but why make a long-awaited comeback if you’re going to limit what made you interesting and unique in the first place? A group of Sechs Kies’ pedigree deserves more than a song that feels like a cast-off from YG’s younger acts.