In many corners of the online k-pop community, “Latin” has been a buzzword when considering the industry’s next possible trend. This makes sense, as it would be a natural progression from the tropical house we’ve been inundated with over the past couple of years. It would also converge nicely with k-pop’s growing popularity in Central and South America. If this prediction ends up coming true, Super Junior must be credited as one of its pioneers. As far as I know, Lo Siento is the first major k-pop title track to heavily feature a guest artist (in this case, American-based Leslie Grace) performing entirely in Spanish.
The problem with foreign trends infiltrating k-pop is that they often arrive via their most generic elements. Lo Siento feels very much like a typical Latin pop crossover track with (mostly) Korean lyrics rather than the truly novel blend of two cultures that it might have been. A crazy, adventurous chorus would have helped. As it stands, Siento is more groove than song — with a hook that is catchy from the get-go but not galvanizing enough to really turn heads.
Luckily, the instrumental gets that groove right, offering a percussive playground of plucked guitar and stomping rhythm. Both Super Junior and Grace are up for the challenge, imbuing the song with a charismatic delivery perched somewhere between hip-hop and traditional pop. Flashes of layered background vocals pop up every now and then, hearkening back to Super Junior’s past work. I just wish there was a bit more individual flair driving the track. Lo Siento isn’t a particularly energetic, in-your-face piece of music, and that’s totally fine. But without a sense of crackling energy, it needed a dynamite hook to really stand out in an international market already flush with Latin influences.