The debut of Woollim’s new boy group has been rumored for well over a year, increasing expectations for what Golden Child may sound like. And from a personal perspective, the guys are the successors to my ultimate bias, Infinite. This runs the risk of inviting a host of unwarranted comparisons, but DamDaDi (담다디) sounds nothing like a song that Infinite would record. That’s probably a smart idea, as rookies need to establish a style all their own to stand out among the ever-increasing crowd of competitors. DamDaDi definitely stands out, though I’m not sure how durable its candy-coated hooks will be in the long run.
Golden Child boasts eleven members, positioning them closer to a male cheerleading squad than an actual band, and DamDaDi‘s unrelenting energy plays to those strengths. Rather than latch on to the trends of the moment, the song pulls from a retro power pop base that gives the guys an oddly throwback appeal. There’s a strong 50’s rock n’roll vibe running through the instrumental’s bouncy guitar, which is almost unheard of in modern k-pop. This is fused to an incessantly catchy repetition of the DamDaDi‘s title, perched as a mix of Seventeen‘s bright funk and High School Musical‘s cheesy sing-along. At times, it feels a little too reliant on the easy hook at its core. I’m not sure there’s such a thing as being too catchy, but DamDaDi definitely flirts with that line.
The song is at its best, then, during its explosive pre-chorus and free-wheeling verses. Like many groups with a similarly large roster, Golden Child is capable of supplying a euphoric blast of layered vocals that make any song feel more immense than it is. None of the individual members are given much of a chance to stand out here, but together they display an infectious spirit that’s hard to resist.