Over the past several days, we’ve been treated to a pair of girl group releases that abandoned k-pop’s lighter tropes for something more edgy and fierce. As catchy as their material is, Gugudan has so far steered in the complete opposite direction, punctuating their sugar fluff pop with giddy exclamations and baby-like coos. It’s an acquired taste that most in the k-pop community are accustomed to. In fact, it’s so prevalent within the industry that it hardly seems strange anymore. But make no bones about it, a song like Chococo is downright odd — even without its candy crack music video.
“Odd” can be a bad thing or a good thing (and sometimes both). Chococo isn’t boundary-pushing enough to feel like an off-the-wall artistic statement. It mostly recycles the same girl group tricks we’ve heard in k-pop over the past few years. Some have compared its propulsively fizzy nature to Cosmic Girls’ Happy from earlier in the year, and the energy is definitely similar. Chococo feels more all over the place, held together by the rollicking hook at its core. This piece of sing-along melody is potent enough to keep the song above water, especially when paired with the sly post-chorus that follows.
As polished as Chococo‘s production is, none of its elements bring anything new to the table. The fuzzy surf guitar that opens the track is a welcome touch, and could have easily been expanded on to bolster the song’s sense of identity. A stronger infusion of bass (like in the girls’ February single) might also lend some edge. As it stands, the song veers dangerously close to feeling too saccharine sweet for its own good. Just like the endless supply of candy in its music video, Chococo enchants in the moment but might leave you feeling a little guilty afterward.