With every LOONA-related release, it feels like the k-pop community combusts with excitement. Now that the group’s entire roster has been introduced, it’s a good time to reconcile my personal indifference with the obvious buzz this project has garnered online. I think I get the appeal. In a way, LOONA’s otherworldly aesthetic is a push back on the severely limiting cutesy/innocent concept that has gripped the girl group scene for the past few years. The project itself is ambitious — delivering creative, cinematic music videos on the regular. But… the songs. Why have so few of them left a lasting impression on me?
As much as it’s concerned with music, the LOONA roll-out also feels like a love note to fan culture. There’s so much to discuss and connect and wonder about. I’ve never been the type who enjoys theorizing what this or that little detail may mean in a music video, so a large chunk of this enjoyment is likely lost on me. I’m all in for that big, primal pop song. Give me an arresting melody with an epic performance and I’m sold. As cool as most of these music videos have been, LOONA has at times felt like a student art film more in love with production and style than showcasing the performers at its core.
This brings me to Egoist, for it is truly a song driven by its production. What begins as a moody synth-sprinkled mid-tempo becomes decidedly experimental after its first chorus. That sense of abandon — with electronic flourishes and volleys of percussion dotting the musical landscape — is Egoist’s strongest asset. Olivia’s voice doesn’t do all that much apart from sounding pretty and somewhat unattached, even as the instrumental roils with an uneasy energy. I’m afraid that there wouldn’t be much left if you were to strip away all the bells and whistles, as Egoist‘s feather-light chorus doesn’t draw much attention on its own. And that’s my biggest concern with LOONA in a nutshell. There are so many interesting things swirling around at all times, but the underlying songs can sometimes feel like an afterthought.