The last time Junhyung released a promoted solo single it was 2013’s absolutely brilliant Flower. 2013 was a high watermark year for the artists-formally-known-as-Beast. It also felt like the era that Junhyung’s composing partnership with Kim Taejoo — under the moniker “Good Life” — was really coming into its own. Fast forward to 2017 and Beast is now Highlight, under their own agency, and definitely under their own control. Presumably, this will allow for a much steadier stream of group and solo releases. Wonder If (그대로일까) is no Flower, but it’s a strong indication that we’re in for more great music as the members begin to spread their wings.
The most striking thing about Wonder If is that it’s not a hip-hop track. As Highlight’s sole rapper, you might expect those skills to be showcased here. But then again, Junhyung has utilized his vocals much more frequently of late, even driving the first chorus of the group’s massive Plz Don’t Be Sad. Like G-Dragon, Zico and any number of idol rappers, Junhyung’s singing voice is not on par with k-pop’s more notable vocalists. But, he compensates with character and charisma. His flow here borders on hip-hop, even as the song’s more traditional r&b melody takes precedence. This structure gives the track a conversational charm that works to its benefit — especially during the circular, stuffed-to-the-brim chorus.
It girl Heize features briefly at the track’s climax, delivering a smooth verse that contrasts well with Junhyung’s drawl. It doesn’t feel completely necessary to Wonder If‘s success, but adds a nice counterpoint to break things up. The instrumental mostly stays out the way, delivering exactly the sound you’d expect from a track of this genre. The one exception is that spacey, psychedelic synth that runs through the chorus. It’s an ear-catching touch, and hints at a more experimental side to Junhyung’s productions that I hope he explores further.