Two weeks after releasing the supple funk of I Need U, Lay has returned with the worst k-pop-adjacent track this year (and that’s saying something, since his most recent competition is Jackson’s Papillon). Sheep (羊) is what happens when a song is so desperate to become meme-worthy that it loses any other sense of purpose as a piece of music. It’s a joke that isn’t funny, and a complete waste of Lay’s strengths as an artist.
Sheep derives from a nickname given to Lay, which in itself proves how creatively bankrupt the ideas were this time around. Some nicknames might be clever or interesting enough to form the backbone of a song, but shouting “I am the sheep!” in a faux-rap style is not the least bit endearing — gag or not. Throughout the entire track, Lay adopts a “swag” driven persona. And just like with Jackson, it doesn’t feel authentic. He is a vocalist, after all, which makes the choice to go full hip-hop even more confounding. Then there’s the confusion surrounding the sheep moniker itself. I understand that it’s meant to describe his innocence, but in English-speaking circles, the word connotes a follower — someone who chases trends rather than strike out on their own. In this way, I suppose “Sheep” is indeed a proper title, though I’m sure it wasn’t intentional.
All of this problematic delivery and lyrical content would be forgivable if the instrumental or hook carried the least bit of charm, but unfortunately Sheep borrows the most annoying of trap elements and throws them into a hip-hop EDM structure that goes nowhere. The drop is weak and forgettable. The percussive stomp shows potential but is undone by a lack of ambition. And as soon as the track throws an actual sheep sound effect into the mix, any hope of this disaster becoming salvageable is over.