Having grown up on the likes of early-90’s Michael and Janet Jackson, the lockstep, staccato sound of New Jack Swing was a constant presence during my formative musical years. It remains one of my favorite genres to this day, and I love when k-pop dips its toes into its aesthetic. Of all the k-pop groups working today, EXID feel uniquely qualified to take on this style. Though they’ve branched out a bit since their debut in 2012, the girls initially burst onto the scene with a bright, funk-laced retro sound.
Lady (내일해) may not be as instantly arresting as last November’s dynamite DDD, but it carries an addictive, low-key groove that will likely serve it well in the long run. Working yet again with mega-producer Shinsadong Tiger, EXID borrow liberally from the 90’s to craft an authentic summertime bop that was probably released a few months too early.
Opening with a scratchy brass riff, Lady soon finds its percussion-heavy drive thanks to an insistent beat underlined by sparkling synths and piano. This proves to be a recipe for success in part because of its familiarity. In a musical climate that feels clogged with buzzwords like trap and EDM and future bass, it’s incredibly refreshing to hear something this joyously uncluttered. Lady’s melody may not be a total knockout, but it’s cohesive and ingratiating throughout. Without a focus on attention-stealing hooks or sucker punches, the song is able to take it easy and elicit a sense of head-bobbing comfort. From its vocal ad-libs to that sky-high, Mariah Carey homage of a note that introduces the second chorus, Lady is a non-stop pleasure for anyone who misses the feel-good simplicity of the 90’s.