After giving us its co-ed theme song and the boys’ group track, it’s time for The Unit to complete its trilogy of pre-releases before the series officially debuts tomorrow. This time the female contestants take center stage for the peppy Shine, and the song is a veritable case study for why I’m generally inclined towards the male side of k-pop releases.
Last week’s Last One wasn’t anything particularly special, but at least the producers allowed the guys to take on a powerful, modern concept. In contrast, Shine feels like some cutesy sing-song nursery rhyme you’d teach a kindergartner. I realize that this is a vast generalization, but the stark difference between the two tracks feels like a microcosm of the entire k-pop industry. These are grown women, after all. Do they really need to spell out S-H-I-N-E in such a babyish manner during the chorus? Sure, it’s catchy, but so is a commercial jingle. It doesn’t mean anyone actually wants to hear it again.
The odd thing is, Shine was co-composed by Kim Seung-Soo, one half of the duo who founded my favorite production team of all time, Sweetune. But on his own, Seung-Soo has been less than impressive this year. He gave us DIA’s ultra-generic tropical pop comeback earlier this month, which suffered from the same affected cuteness that utterly sabotages Shine. I’m not sure whether he’s being guided towards this sound by marketplace and agency demands, or if this is just another facet of his personal style. The fact that those exhausting “tropical” squiggles are awkwardly shoehorned into the song’s production makes me suspect the former. But either way, a juvenile track like Shine doesn’t do justice to anyone involved.