With so many similarly-pitched idol competitions premiering at the same time, I fear the onset of k-pop survival series fatigue. And by releasing their theme song last out of the group, MIXNINE’s Just Dance (선공개) feels way too familiar in both inspiration and execution. But the song was co-composed by producer Teddy, who has long been a reliable creator of top tier k-pop material. Even working within the narrow confines that these kind of tracks demand, he manages to imbue Dance with enough excitement to make it another worthy addition to this growing sub-genre.
As the song kicks off, its funk-laced production promises great things to come. The sheer bigness of the percussion, paired with an engaging gurgle of electro-bass, provides the kind of audio smack in the face that compositions like these are built for. As with both The Unit and Produce 101, the vocals have been filtered to sound like dozens of performers even though there are really only two main voices driving the track. This arrangement strikes a solid balance between the need to sound immense and individual. Even so, I can’t help but wonder how Just Dance would have turned out if given to a more traditional idol group who might have been able to bring a more interesting sense of personality to the relatively generic melody.
The first time through, Dance‘s lack of a proper chorus was a real turn-off. Like so many others before it, the track builds up such good will during its verses only to be sabotaged by a centerpiece that relies too heavily on familiar instrumental trends. But while I would have preferred a more fleshed out chorus, Dance‘s simple refrain still feels big enough to drive the song. I especially love the filtered “all night long I wanna dance” echo to the central hook. Its layered texture helps lend the track the kind of enormity it’s seeking to create. Leave it to someone like Teddy to turn choices I despise into moments of pop bliss.