Last year, it took a while for the whole IOI phenomenon to click with me. As much as I loved watching Produce 101, the post-show releases felt more like agencies throwing various songs and genres at the girls rather than an attempt to create a cohesive sound. But then again, can a group who’s set to disband after only one year truly have a sense of musical cohesion? That question will be slowly answered over the next few months as Wanna One promotes in earnest. Their debut has already shattered records when it comes to chart performance and statistics. And thankfully, their first promoted song is also a much stronger start than last year’s cheesy Dream Girls.
With a mountain of pre-debut hype before them, it was going to be difficult to create a track that felt momentous enough to warrant all the interest swirling around the group. But the powers-that-be were wise to give fans the opportunity to vote on which song became the promoted single — especially since the other candidate, Burn It Up, is a bit of a try-hard stinker. Energetic (에너제틱) may not feel like the unveiling of k-pop royalty, but it has an easy charm to it that complements Wanna One’s variety-honed personalities.
Foregoing the tired tropical house trend, Energetic opts for a throwback keys-driven club beat. The production, overseen by Pentagon member Hui, is immaculate throughout. It’s densely layered without feeling cluttered, and pulls in a driving kick beat that feels refreshingly straightforward. If anything, the song could do with a stronger hook. Its chorus sounds more like a great pre-chorus waiting to be answered with a fully fleshed out refrain. Luckily, the charismatic performances and high-energy instrumental compensate. I would love to see the group develop this sound further rather than jump onto whatever trend might be in vogue at the moment.