Song Review: Chungha – Roller Coaster

Chungha has been one of the bigger success stories from 2016’s Produce 101 group I.O.I. While most other members have been reshuffled back into their respective groups, she embarked on a solo career. Last Summer’s Why Don’t You Know wasn’t my cup of tea, but it held onto the charts for much longer than many would have predicted. With new single Roller Coaster, Chungha changes up her sound quite drastically. The song is stronger this time around, but it’s hindered by some very familiar issues.

It’s not easy to maintain a successful solo career. With idol groups, pressures of performance and promotion don’t usually fall on only one person, and a variety of vocal tones and skills ensures a final product that feels diverse and dynamic. Chungha possesses all the charisma necessary to captivate on her own, but I just don’t think her voice works by itself. In I.O.I, she was able to contribute brilliantly to the larger tapestry of sounds. In Roller Coaster — as with Why Don’t You Know — the song’s key forces her into an overly shrill delivery that lacks power and impact.

This is a shame, because Roller Coaster itself feels quite impactful. Produced by Black Eyed Pilseung (of Twice fame), the track melds a big electronic dance beat to calypso-like percussion. I love that it never slows down, spinning off energy with an addictive sense of propulsion. It’s all anchored by a soaring pop chorus that is undercut by its delivery. I don’t want to sound like I’m disparaging Chungha’s ability as a performer, because I think her voice can be quite charming. This just wasn’t a particularly good match between artist and song.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 6



6 thoughts on “Song Review: Chungha – Roller Coaster

  1. A lot of people are saying that b-side track: “Bad Boy” sounds an awful lot like Golden Child’s “With Me”. Even to the point of possible plagiarism. Since you are familiar with “With Me” (seeing that you did a review on it before), would you mind giving a quick listen to “Bad Boy” and telling me your thoughts? Thanks!


    • I heard that too. That instrumental riff is identical. I wonder if it’s the same sample? It could just be a public domain loop that both acts used. Either way, GC used it better 😉


      • It could be the same sample…I doubt we’ll ever know for sure. I figured that you’d say GC did it more justice, lol.


  2. I also don’t get why she prefers to go with this thin, whiny tone when it’s clear that she’s capable of producing one that is much fuller and carries more weight.


  3. Don’t understand why you seem to take such issue with her voice. Chungha has more vocal skill and control than most idols and she has displayed the capacity to sing and dance through her performances unlike pretty much ALL idol groups who lip-sync the majority of their performances even when their dance isn’t that difficult. To me it seems like Chungha sings in her “mix” (not singing in falsetto but not a full tonal belt) as it’s where it’s easiest for her to sing whilst dancing, doing this she doesn’t have to utilise full support to get notes out (which is hard while dancing as it counteracts use of your core muscles). IMO it suits the song beautifully and given the songs somewhat romantic lyrical content the softer delivery isn’t a bad thing.
    Given that Chungha’s skills primarily lie in dance I would rather see Chungha dance and perform and display her full range of skills than have to hold back her dancing so she can use her full vocal range.
    Aside from that though Black eyed pilsung seems to be my favourite producer at the moment, this song for sure will be one of my favourites of 2018 I can already tell.


    • I’m not sure it’s a matter of technique as much as personal preference. When she hits that particular register, I just find her tone really grating.

      I actually like the song quite a bit, but can’t get past some of the vocals. And since this is more of a personal taste issue, I’m not sure there’s much that can be done. Maybe her tone will grow on me.


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