It would be hard to overstate just how much I was looking forward to this comeback from TVXQ. To be honest, it was in contention for my “top song of 2018” before I even heard a teaser or description. After all, it’s been almost three years since their last album — four years since their last promoted comeback. That’s four years for SM to find that perfect TVXQ song that showcases what they — and only they — can bring to table. Alas, The Chance Of Love (운명) is not that song.
More and more, I feel like I’m succumbing to the expectations game. My anticipation rises so high, only to be dashed when a cherished group returns with an underwhelming sound. It’s partially (if not entirely) my fault for setting my sights so high, and eventually my thoughts on most of these comebacks end up improving as I learn to appreciate them for what they are and not what I wish they would be. But with that said, The Chance Of Love feels incredibly slight when compared to TVXQ’s past work. There’s nothing I dislike about the song, but there’s very little that grabs me. And that seems like an almost sacrilegious statement to make about an act as consistently dynamic as TVXQ.
Pursuing a similar swing/jazz dance-pop hybrid to the one that powered Super Junior‘s excellent Black Suit last year, Chance offers a smooth, refined sound that’s heavy on polish but light on hooks. Its central refrain isn’t so much a chorus as a wordless aside, catchy in a throwaway manner that feels frustratingly generic. Right before this moment, the beat drops out to focus on a much jazzier arrangement, but there’s something missing between the two pieces. Chance never hits a high point. A big, layered chorus would have fixed this. I’m actually surprised that longtime collaborator Yoo Young-Jin had a hand in composing/arranging the song, as his trademark cues are almost entirely missing. When they do show up in the dual-voiced second half of the bridge, we get a sense of the power that the rest of the song lacks. TVXQ certainly have nothing to prove when it comes to their career, but The Chance Of Love doesn’t take advantage of just how astonishingly great they can be.