Ever since it was announced that Sechs Kies would be signing with YG Entertainment for a late-career comeback, many were waiting for that big track that would herald the return of one of the k-pop’s most-loved 90’s groups. Instead, the agency released piecemeal remake albums and compilations, anchored by new tracks that felt solid but slight. Now, a year-and-a-half since their partnership with YG was announced, the group has finally completed their first full album of original material in seventeen years.
Such a momentous occasion should be marked with music that is just as momentous, but instead Sechs Kies has been saddled with a pair of barely-there adult contemporary title tracks. Typical k-ballad Smile is pleasant enough, but the mid-tempo singalong of Something Special (특별해) best exemplifies the problem with the group’s 2017 promotion. Comparing k-pop groups is fraught with danger within rabid fan culture, but when it comes to the resurgence of 90’s idols, YG would do well to learn from how Shinhwa has structured their post-military careers. The guys of Sechs Kies are not “old” by any real-world standard, so I don’t see why their music should feel tired or unadventurous.
Unfortunately, Something Special is overly careful not to color outside of the lines. Its guitar-driven, nearly-reggae beat is designed for maximum appeal in the same way a commercial jingle strives for ubiquity via easy repetition. The song’s chorus is continually stuck in a rut, aiming for anthemic even as it hemorrhages energy. The vaguely hip-hop melody incorporates touchstones from all three of YG’s boy groups, but feels like the “dad” version of the YG house sound. This is exactly opposite of what Sechs Kies should be doing. They are so much more interesting and influential than a song this redundant.