Most newer Korean groups make an effort to court international fans, but few have gone as far as KARD. The co-ed quartet are practically unknown in their homeland, yet have amassed an impressive international following in the space of only eight months. With the constant tours and promotional videos comes a trendy brand of music that sounds much more westernized than the k-pop of past generations. Over the course of four singles, KARD’s core sound could be described as “tropical _____.” Whether that blank is filled with moombahton, house, or straight-up EDM doesn’t matter so much. The KARD formula has become well-defined, and it will be interesting to see if they can successfully move behind it.
New single Hola Hola takes steps in the right direction, even if its overly simplistic chorus leaves something to be desired. This time around, the energy is bumped up a notch, as the bright synths brush up against a more persistent dance beat. The song’s verses offer a fun interplay between the guys and the girls, proving yet again why KARD is a rookie group to be reckoned with. I do wish that the second verse would have exploded with added propulsion rather than pull back for Jiwoo’s gritty breakdown. It’s a nice moment of melodic hip-hop, but feels like it’s part of a different song entirely.
The intro to Hola Hola‘s chorus is incredibly promising, stripping away the beat to focus on a gorgeous blend of vocals. But after that, nothing much happens. The beat returns, but an actual chorus is nowhere to be found. Instead, a tropical instrumental takes center stage, packed with the now-cliche chirps of synth that 2017 can’t seem to get enough of. I’m not sure an overly-complex melody would even work for this song, but it’s hard not to feel a little let down by the repetition of “hola hola” that we get. Even so, the track works as a summertime burst of energy that maintains KARD’s trademark style without feeling completely redundant.