Girl group ELRIS made a quick debut after one of its members, Sohee, finished as runner-up of the final season of K-Pop Star. Unfortunately, it was in the form of the forgettable We, First, which ticked all the expected girl group boxes without establishing an identity of its own. But we all know that debuts can be a bit hit and miss. More important is the follow-up. This is where we get to test the true mettle of a rookie.
Lucky for ELRIS, Pow Pow is much stronger than its predecessor. The song still conforms to the cutesy/quirky girl group act of the moment, but it does so with hooks and energy to spare. The importance of a strong instrumental refrain should never be discounted, and Pow Pow bursts out of the gate with a peppy guitar riff that provides a meatier backbone than expected. The verses lean a little too close to aegyo for comfort, but the lively arrangement allows for interesting phrasing throughout. I love the vocal samples that open the track and the oddly rhythmic post-chorus hook, even if “love is volcano… pow! pow!” makes for a bit of a confusing mixed metaphor (do volcanoes really go “pow”?).
Most importantly, Pow Pow is incredibly catchy from the start. And with all its quirks, it doesn’t rest on one easy hook to get there. Its chorus may have a simple structure, but it feels fully fleshed out and dynamically arranged. Things get even more interesting as we move into the nimble middle-eight rap. After a brief lull, the track spins off more and more energy, throwing all its candy-coated pieces into the air at once. It may not be what anyone would consider high art, but it sure is a blast.
As a youtube commenter said, this has a melange of influences. It sounds like a mixture of rock and late 60s-early 70s soul music with a bit of funk in it. It also has bossa nova and tropical house influences. Personally, it recalls specifically, Fifth Dimension’s Wedding Bell Blues (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXuyQILJ-yc) and also Sergio Mendes.
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