It took them awhile, but girl group Sonamoo have finally released two fantastic, back-to-back singles. This summer’s Friday Night was an unexpected, disco-infused treat, but I (아이) ups the ante by pulling influence from k-pop’s past. The song may have been produced by one half of the ubiquitous e.one production duo, but its dramatic, brass-spiked sound shares more in common with Sweetune‘s work with groups like Nine Muses and Kara.
This is how I want my k-pop girl groups to sound. The “cute” act can be fun in small doses, but lately it’s seemed to overtake almost every new female-fronted release. Sonamoo themselves tried this out (unsuccessfully) a number of times, but it never felt authentic. After all, they debuted with an edgier hip-hop concept. And with member Euijin drawing praise as the initial female center of KBS’s survival series The Unit, now is the perfect time to cement a successful style for the group.
I kicks off with a rhythmic guitar strum that flirts with the current Latin trend without going overboard. The verses provide a layered, atmospheric build-up that should feel very familiar to anyone who has listened to e.one’s work in the past. The constant “I, I, I” background vocal riff is a nice touch that gives the track a sense of identity. But make no bones about it, I‘s centerpiece is its expansive, multi-part chorus. As the instrumental builds to a series of brassy exclamation points, the girls answer with a spacey, harmonized refrain that adds an excellent sense of texture to an already dynamic hook. They do all of this without resorting to the kinds of girl group cliches (sexy or cute) that would have sabotaged I‘s overall effect. I only hope they’ll use this evocative sound as a starting point for a newly-revitalized career.