Now that YG Entertainment has moved to a double title track only release schedule for most of their artists — often with a long break in between comebacks — it’s essential for every one of those songs to be amazing. If you start giving the music video treatment to subpar material, it weakens the whole idea of what a blockbuster single can be. This feels especially true for iKON, whose hip-hop heavy sound will probably never be as public friendly as Winner‘s more melodic output.
Lead title track Bling Bling makes a noisy, rambunctious splash, but it’s the classic case of a lot of sound and fury masking very little underneath. At its core, the song is an old-fashioned, bravado-filled hip-hop pastiche, down to the commanding trumpet riff that heralds its simple chant of a hook. Though iKON is home to a number of talented vocalists, they’re given very little to do here. Instead, the track is split into swag-filled segments that give rappers B.I. and Bobby more spotlight than anyone else. What little melody that exists is run through a filter of autotune that muddles what could have been interesting changes in tone.
As a big comeback after a year, Bling Bling doesn’t feel up to the task of reestablishing iKON’s place as super rookies. The group is at their best when they pull from both the hip-hop and idol worlds in equal measure. Attempting this harder-edged style, especially with a title as embarrassingly dated as Bling Bling, just comes off as kind of cheesy. That said, the guys are able to muster up a few good moments. The booming brass backbone of the instrumental is solid, and the climactic cacophony of the track’s final thirty seconds packs the type of off-the-wall energy that should have driven everything else before it.