While reviewing Wanna One’s Energetic, I mentioned how I felt that IOI’s debut year was hampered by a discography that forced a variety of sounds and styles at the girls rather than let them forge a unique musical identity. It remains to be seen whether Wanna One will be plagued by the same issue, but their debut mini album is definitely an exercise in contrasts. While the bright electro funk of Energetic seems to suit them perfectly, Burn It Up‘s trend-hopping template confirms some of my concerns about the Produce 101 machine.
Burn It Up (활활) is Wanna One attempting to go full-on BTS. It’s a heavy, hip-hop and EDM hype track that we’ve heard many times before. This isn’t an inherently bad genre, but we’ve heard much better examples of it in the recent past. The song’s verses and pre-chorus are its strongest elements, surging forward with energy to spare. This is thanks to an insistent beat and an injection of swerving, swirling synths that drive the track forward.
Unfortunately, the chorus is as unimaginative as modern k-pop gets, simply stating the song’s title over a lazy, been-here-before beat drop. There’s very little indication of actual thought or passion being brought to the construction of this hook, which is a shame. Wanna One’s eleven-member power could have been utilized much more effectively, but Burn It Up is content to rest on a monotone centerpiece that replicates the sound of its competitors without harnessing the full fury. An overly silly English-language chant at the climax doesn’t help things. In short: now that they’ve burnt it up, I hope Wanna One stay Energetic for the rest of their Produce 101 promotional life.
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