Hyoyeon — known as one of the main dancers in Girls’ Generation — made her solo debut with last year’s SM Station track Mystery. It left a lot to be desired, especially since Hyoyeon herself possesses so many aspects that make for a compelling solo act. New single Wannabe improves a bit on Mystery, but still feels like a misguided attempt at tackling a genre that doesn’t fit her.
The opening bars of Wannabe are quite off-putting, with a noisy, obnoxious loop that doesn’t seem to know the meaning of restraint. The hip-hop verses are equally unfortunate, positioning Hyoyeon within a “hard” rap persona that feels disingenuous and forced. Watching Hyoyeon on last summer’s Hit The Stage dance variety show, it was clear that she still has an incredible passion for hip-hop style choreography. But just because you can pull off the moves and energy doesn’t mean that you should actually be a rapper. Wannabe would have been better suited as a melodic pop song with urban underpinnings. Painted with such broad strokes, even San E’s verse comes off as cheesy and irritating.
Luckily, Wannabe has its moments. The brassy, attitude-fueled chorus is infinitely better than Mystery‘s, and goes a long way in bringing out Hyoyeon’s charms as a vocalist. Her tone is unlike the other members in Girls’ Generation, and there’s definitely a place for her when it comes to solo material. But Wannabe is another frustrating false start that seeks to caricature rather than compel.