Only two days into the new year and one of my k-pop resolutions has been answered. I am firmly within the “keep k-pop weird” camp, even as many of Korea’s idol groups strive for a more internationally-minded sound that incorporates popular Western trends. A song concept like Wolf Baby‘s is something only k-pop could produce, and that’s a very good thing.
Though I wasn’t a huge fan of TRCNG’s debut single, its accompanying album was very strong. This is a young group, and they feel most authentic when delivering material that suits their age. Wolf Baby is as fun as it is ridiculous, and even without the cheesy visuals the song stands on its own. This is thanks to a huge, brassy funk beat that imbues the instrumental with a sense of grandness. The bass gurgles with a horror show motif perfectly in keeping with Baby‘s cinematic appeal. And most importantly, the production’s sense of bombast expands as we near the bridge. Electric guitar pierces the track as additional percussive layers are added, resulting in a climax that actually feels climactic. It’s a very 2012-2013 k-pop sound, which is something the industry’s been missing for some time.
Of course, this would all mean nothing without a memorable chorus. Wolf Baby‘s refrain swings with a powerful single-mindedness, offering a full-throated chant-like hook that doesn’t simply rely on a repetitive beat drop. The verses aren’t quite as dynamic, mostly because they’re separated between vocals (verse one) and rap (verse two) rather than a combination of both elements. But the track’s unflagging energy is more than enough to counter any forgettable moments. This is the way to start 2018 off right!
TRCNG are proving themselves to be quite strong rookies, at least music wise. Spectrum was a really solid debut and this is a great follow up too it, and it really reminds me of something that could be released in 2013-2014 which I’ve missed. I also really like the b-sides on the single album!
I don’t get a real sense of their personality yet, but the music so far has been pretty great and refreshingly trend-free. I look forward to where they go next!
Why can’t we have both? Differing from mainstream Western music while still also building on it are features of kpop, and there are plenty of acts to provide a full spectrum from weird to Western. And that’s ignoring the lyrics and MVs entirely.
We can definitely have both, and I hope we do! It’s just that the past year seemed to steer heavily toward western trends. I’m hoping for a better balance in 2018.
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