Though they’ve only been around for just over three months, Wanna One already feel like a vital part of the current k-pop landscape. Their big personalities have been especially welcome on variety shows, but their debut Energetic also enjoyed unexpected staying power, becoming one of this year’s most addictive dance tracks. With Beautiful, the group takes a hard turn to tackle a big, modern pop ballad. And though its familiar structure limits the song’s punch, the guys ably pull off the sound.
Unfortunately, “pulling off a sound” is the bare minimum a group of this caliber should be striving for. Beautiful’s biggest hurdle is its lack of imagination. Its subdued instrumental is a blend of things we’ve heard a million times before. The pitched synths that tickle the song’s soundscape are particularly grating and unnecessarily trendy. The percussion-heavy arrangement recalls those Ryan Tedder-produced ballads that were ubiquitous a decade or so ago — too slow for exciting choreography and too plodding to drive the kind of emotional weight the song pursues. The track seems pinned down by its own production, never able to transform into something unique and essential.
Instead, Beautiful succeeds on the strength of Wanna One themselves. A song of this genre isn’t ideal for such a large group, but its restraint allows for an effective spotlight on their voices. The explosive pre-chorus is especially nice, injecting a needed spike of energy after the murkier verses. I wish the actual chorus felt more dynamic, but its final repetition ignites a few sparks as the guys let loose with a couple cathartic notes that could have pushed even farther. And that’s Beautiful in a nutshell. I can see what the group was striving for, but with their current level of unrivaled popularity, they should have been given a stronger song to accomplish this goal.
I feel like ‘Beautiful’ is a sign that Wanna One’s producers are getting complacent now that Wanna One are popular. It’s a well-known fact that popular groups can skate by on name value alone in K-pop – for example, I think SNSD’s ‘Party’ or Sistar’s ‘Shake It’ would have definitely flopped if they were done by nugus instead of juggernauts. However, if CJ E&M wants Wanna One to remain popular, they need to give them more interesting songs.
I’m really curious about the decision making that went into picking this particular song. With as successful as Wanna One is, I’m sure CJ could have purchased a track by any producer they wanted to. Yet they went with a song by producers that, according to Melon, have no other credits to their name. I could understand this if the actual song was better, but you’d think they’d want to pair Wanna One with the hottest producers of the moment.
Pingback: The Top 10 K-Pop Artists of 2017 | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion
Pingback: A Guide to the Post-‘Produce 101’ K-Pop Landscape: Its Spin-Offs, Soloists and Sub-Units | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion
Pingback: The Ultimate Guide to KCON (+ 2018 Recap) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion
Pingback: Song Review: Hotshot – I Hate You | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion
Pingback: Song Review: Wanna One – Beautiful (Part 3) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion
Pingback: Track Overview: Wanna One – Lovely (Half 3) -