Over the past few weeks, k-pop has enjoyed a much-needed resurgence of proper choruses. And though EXID never quite fell victim to the trend of instrumental riffs masquerading as hooks, there were a number of times during new single DDD (덜덜덜) that I feared the song may take that dreaded, melody-averse turn. But then again, EXID made their unprecedented 2014 career rebound on the success of a track that married simplistic hooks with a full-throated, anthemic refrain. I should have expected that DDD would follow the same formula.
EXID’s material is pretty hit and miss for me, but this familiar structure works well for them. DDD‘s verses are a hypnotic repetition of the same, straightforward vocal loop, framing a vampy falsetto melody with bursts of spitfire hip-hop courtesy of charismatic leader LE. This soon gives way to an effectively moody build that seems designed to deteriorate into some lazy instrumental drop. Instead, the girls flip expectations and deliver an ultra-pop chorus. It feels similar to the approach used by BLACKPINK with their incredibly successful As If It’s Your Last earlier this year. I’m not sure that DDD‘s chorus is quite as exhileratingly melodic, but its surging, sing-along nature makes for a nice contrast to the vibier verses.
Just yesterday, I mentioned my hope for a revitalized k-pop girl group scene that places less importance on “cute” to let these performers display a more diverse set of talents. I’ve been critical of EXID’s music in the past, but I don’t think they get the credit they deserve for pushing the envelope in this regard. DDD‘s grab-bag of production elements alone gives it more of a unique identity than most of their peers. I’m not sure that it will have the chart-conquering staying power of past hits like Up & Down or Ah Yeah, but it’s the most assured they’ve sounded in quite awhile.