After the incredible success of Really Really, Winner have unexpectedly become to the torchbearers for tropical k-pop. But while they’ve displayed a natural ease with this genre, I’m hoping that their transformation doesn’t ultimately become problematic. Tropical pop is already a fatigued genre, peddled by anyone and everyone in k-pop. I was personally sick of it by the end of last year, and 2017 has well and truly pounded the last nail into the coffin. So while Island is another solid example of the genre, it’s hard to feel too enthused by its ultra-familiar template.
Incorporating a strong dance hall beat that echoes recent material from the similarly-pitched KARD, Island takes a more beat-driven approach than the lighter-on-its-feet Love Me Love Me. This allows for a greater spotlight on Winner’s hip-hop side, giving members Mino and Seunghoon (now going by the ridiculous “Hoony”) more to do. This is at the expense of a proper chorus, though Island‘s resounding hook still manages to cast some sparks. This is largely thanks for Seungyoon’s textured vocals. I’ve longed for him to return to rock music ever since his excellent 2013 solo Wild & Young. That seems unlikely to happen now, but thankfully his gritty tone is still being utilized to bring much-needed character to this over-saturated genre.
When it comes down to it, that’s just what Island is. The song is yet another entry in an increasing-contrived style, but it’s elevated by a group who bring enough individual quirks to salvage what otherwise would be quite forgettable. I really hope Winner don’t let their 2017 success pigeonhole them into this sound, even though it seems to compliment their talents as a group. But for now, Island completes a summer trilogy of sorts that cements Winner’s world-conquering reinvention.