Most of the time, a kpop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-side tracks deserve recognition, too. In the singles-oriented world of kpop, I wanted to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
There have been some big name rookies already this year, but none has quite captured my attention like Astro or NCT did in 2016. However, I feel like WM Entertainment’s ONF might just turn out to be that group for 2017. Not only is their debut single super solid, but the entire mini album presents a unified and unique sound that sets ONF apart. While many of their songs use tropical elements, the synth work features a strong African flavor as well. This has been a personal bias of mine for a long time, and not enough pop music draws from the sounds of this region.
Difficult didn’t immediately stick out to me, but over the course of several weeks (and many listens), I’ve become horribly addicted to it. The production is so idiosyncratic, from the vocal filters used on the chorus to the triumphant synth refrain that acts as the song’s centerpiece. I can already tell that a hallmark of ONF’s sound will be their powerfully layered vocals, which also happens to be a musical obsession of mine. Add to that a brilliantly sticky rap verse and some dynamic experimentation with the leveling of the track’s instrumental, and you have one of those fantastic pop songs that sneaks up on you in the best way possible.