I’ve often noted the difference between sounds when it comes to a group’s Korean and Japanese releases, and this diversity has become especially noticeable with boy group 100%. In Korea, they’ve moved toward a statelier, mature pop sound that emphasizes the strength of their voices. But in Japan, their music has grown more dance oriented and aggressively uptempo. Usually, I’d be a fan of the latter, but when it comes to pop music, it’s all about the songwriters and producers. 100%’s Korean output has seen them latch onto the always-consistent Sweetune. Their j-pop is more of a mixed bag.
“Mixed bag” is actually an apt description of new single Warrior. There are moments that work wonderfully, but the song is ultimately brought down by a chorus that feels overly familiar and pitched at an uncomfortable range. Warrior‘s best asset is its energetic production, which bursts out of the gate with an ear-catching sense of propulsion that never lets up. Though the synth-driven dance beat doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table, it’s refreshing to hear a song that doesn’t feel as if it has to constantly shift tempos and styles to be interesting.
Unfortunately, Warrior‘s melody is Generic Boy Group 101. Nothing rings false, but the song lacks any sense of surprise. Its punchy energy helps to cover up this familiarity, but that can only take a song so far. The chorus is also problematic, as it has the guys belting at what sounds like the top range of their chest voice. This makes for a somewhat shrill performance that comes across as fragile when it should resound with power and confidence. Songs like Better Day and Sketch U have more than confirmed that 100% are a powerhouse in the vocal department, but Warrior takes a step back.