I am never more biased than when I’m writing about the work of my favorite k-pop producers. And number one on that list is Sweetune, who have very rarely put a foot wrong. Their lush, ultra-melodic style is instantly recognizable, yet completely enduring. As trends ebb and flow, they’ve been an anchor of classic pop songcraft. I’ve been thrilled with their resurgence over the past couple of years, even if it’s been relegated almost exclusively to rookie groups from smaller agencies.
Target is the latest rookie to receive the Sweetune treatment, but with a far different sound than groups like Snuper or Top Secret. When Target first came on the k-pop scene in late 2014 (!) with Please Love Me, they were billed as a moody hip-hop idol act. In many ways, Awake doesn’t change that. The symphonic, electric-guitar fueled instrumental is pure Sweetune, lending a theatrical bombast that really sets the song apart from others within the hip-hop genre. However, Awake‘s heavy focus on rap doesn’t allow the producers to flex their melodic skills.
What we get is fabulous (that tense, ever-rising build of a pre-chorus), but it only makes me long for more. The layered chorus augments the song’s trendier elements with a rush of pop bliss, similar to what Sweetune did with Snuper’s excellent Back:Hug. But again, I want more. Awake plays like an extended album intro, constantly sputtering towards a climax that never arrives. We almost get one right before the final chorus, when a second wall of vocals fades in to collide with the first. It’s brilliant moments like these that are a testament to Sweetune’s incredible skill, even within a slightly underwhelming song.
The company probably went “okay, we want a hip hop based song to fit in with the latest cool hip hop trends” and this is… the Sweetune rendition of fake-tough boy group posturing (?!!!) Anyways, initially my thoughts were pretty much like yours, and then I give the album a spin, which luckily contains an instrumental, which I always love because I can hear what’s going on better. So forgetting the rap and vocal melodies entirely, the instrumental itself is actually really great, with a ton of unexpected and ballsy choices. If there’s one criticism I have for Sweetune’s work it’s that they sometimes have so many layers in play that it’s difficult to understand quite what’s happening. The arrangement for this song on the other hand, has ample space and breathing room while still having this really unique sound palate, a subtle (and beautiful) balance which is rare in kpop as a whole. Also, while there may not be a lot of climax in the vocals, chorus – bridge -final chorus really takes hold with the strings and added instrumental details. So, while I don’t know how I feel about this song as a whole package, I will say that the production is markedly cool.
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Would we expect anything less from Sweetune? I agree, the instrumental is definitely the most interesting part — even though I don’t think hip-hop is the strongest direction for them musically.
By the way, did you see that next week’s comeback by Golden Child is composed by Sweetune?? I am ridiculously excited!
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What????? *gasp* Sweetune and Woollim Ent? I’m excited!
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Tempest might be the title track, it’s much more engaging and puts Target on a greatest level of entertainment than Awake (which is just a “good Sweetune’s song”). The group is so talented and promising, but it seems like KPop is no longer rewarding different concepts from the classical trap/hip hop/EDM sound (think about All Day, the first title track coming from The Uni+… it’s completely useless and underproduced, but it was voted 1st in the ranking while No Way and My Story were much-much-much better).
I guess they are the new Snuper, and in terms of numbers according to what they would deserve it’s unfortunately not a good sensation.
(*Still waiting for your “Buried Treasure: Exp Edition’s Gadawada* LOL)
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