Season 2 of Produce 101 was such a phenomenon that it has spawned not only its winning act, Wanna One, but other project groups as well. Rainz consists of seven fan favorite trainees from the program, debuting and promoting for one year. However, it’s not the members that piqued my interest, but the involvement of producer Ryan S. Jhun in their debut single Juliette. Jhun has been responsible for some the year’s best tracks, including 101‘s immense theme song.
Juliette doesn’t aim to be quite as bombastic, preferring to take a more retro approach instead. The synth riff that opens the track is pure throwback bliss, offering a funky brightness that feels instantly familiar to children of the 80’s such as myself. It’s such a wonderfully specific bit of instrumentation that it feels kind of disappointing when the chorus veers toward a more generic representation of the decade. But if you’re going to ape the sounds of any era, the 80’s is not a bad period to tackle.
In Juliette‘s case, the retro hallmarks of its production meld seamlessly with more current k-pop tropes. The pre-chorus utilizes an effective, stomping build that segues brilliantly into the swinging, vocal-driven chorus. And though rap can often feel out of place within these kinds of lighthearted productions, Juliette‘s rhythmic bounce offers the perfect springboard for hooky Daehyun’s rap verses. Even the odd post-chorus breakdown doesn’t feel completely out of place, buttressed on both ends by enough pop melody to counter its noisy interruption. In the end, Juliette is probably too niche to appeal to everyone, but I’m definitely ready for this kind of jubilant, sing-along style to come back to the forefront of k-pop.