Song Review: Wanna One – Light

These Produce 101 groups are so frustrating. The program compiles such a talented and likable collection of performers, only to undermine that potential with frustratingly generic material. Wanna One’s outstanding first mini album gave me hope that they’d be able to develop a signature sound, but each release since has been a disappointment. New single Light (켜줘) may be an improvement on March’s chorus-less Boomerang, but not by much.

I’ve written before about my desire to travel back in time and confiscate any piece of software responsible for creating these infernal pitched vocal synth squiggles that have hijacked so many k-pop instrumentals over the past few years. I wish the industry had never discovered this aesthetic. I’m so beyond sick of it. Light’s synth-heavy instrumental uses this trend liberally, portioned into eye-rolling, “skrrt”-esque punctuations that instantly date the song. A more daring production might have opted for a unique soundscape with electronics we hadn’t heard a million times before. There is such opportunity here.

The biggest problem with Light is that it doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s not quite a dance track, but it lacks the dynamics of a strong ballad or mid-tempo. It feels constantly on the build, but never actually builds to anything. Its chorus is anticlimactic — dirge-like in its structure when it should be soaring. I don’t know what to do with a song like this. Its noncommittal energy doesn’t inspire. It’s just kind of there. And the frustrating thing is, the guys sound great. They are great. So, why not give them songs that capitalize on this?

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7



25 thoughts on “Song Review: Wanna One – Light

  1. Nice review! I’m just so mad at their company. I love Wanna One, but they’re not the best post-PRODUCE 101 Season 2 boy group to me. I think THE BOYZ are better and have a stronger discography overall.


      • Disagree with that.. Wanna One’s title tracks may be hit or a miss but their B-sides are pretty good (Gold, Day by Day, Wanna and Never), especially the latest album with excellent unit songs. Wanna One has a longer time to promote so they will have a better discography in general. I wish people would listen to their whole discography and not to make sweeping statements.

        Liked by 1 person

        • “Never” can’t be considered as fully a Wanna One’s song. It belongs to Produce 101, and no matter how many times Wanna One perform that, it will remain so (at least for me, who’s a big PD101s2 fan). I wasn’t much impressed with NWY b-sides, and IPU, in my opinion, is the worst ever album in K-pop (“Gold” can be considered as a decent b-side, but everything else on the album made my ears bleed). But I agree that b-sides in Undivided are one of the best, on par with b-sides from TBO (I mean, actual b-sides, not Wanna One version of Produce songs).


          • You can’t say that Never is a Produce 101 song because Wanna One did sing it as part of their album. Just because Produce 101’s producers made the song doesn’t mean it belongs to Produce 101. That would be saying that all these songs belong to the producer/composer/idk.


  2. What are your thoughts on anticlimactic songs in general? I get that preference is key. Still, I’ve been thinking about it. I love Famm’in (Have you heard of them? Curious about your thoughts, and they’re not exactly well-received as far as I know.). I guess the song itself dictates to a certain extent whether an anticlimax is warranted or not.


    • You’re right that preference is key when it comes to any aspect of music. So as always, take my thoughts with a grain of salt.

      I think there’s a way to use restraint effectively, and not every song (or even title track) has to build towards some awesome climax. But, I don’t think a pop song can remain static, either. Even music that isn’t structured around an obvious centerpiece can play around with dynamics.

      BUT, I’ve had my fill of this modern k-pop formula that goes something like this:

      promising high tempo intro > build > build > build > drop > plod > plod > plod > instrumental plod > repeat ad nauseum

      I’m not predisposed to liking this structure as a matter of taste, but its complete overuse has killed what little excitement may have been there at the beginning.

      Never head of Famm’in, but I checked out a song on youtube. Not really my thing, but I think that style of music is different than what I’m complaining about. There’s a uniformity to its energy, and it doesn’t feel like it’s promising something that never comes.


      • “There’s a uniformity to its energy, and it doesn’t feel like it’s promising something that never comes.”

        Yeah. That’s what I was thinking when I said songs dictate whether an anticlimax is warranted or not. This Wanna One song felt bland and generic…Famm’in songs, just to illustrate, do not promise anything more than presence, I think, which I think successfully came through. Aww just a bit sad it’s not your thing because I generally agree with you on other things haha.

        I do get the misuse of restraint in Kpop, plus that formula you spoke of………I guess I’m just pointing out anti-climaxes in general, how they could work given a certain context, but yeah I think that’s already been covered.

        Quite interesting that Famm’in’s not your thing, given that you’ve rated Faky (one of Famm’in’s collaborators) quite highly so far. What didn’t you like about it (if you don’t mind sharing)? Just very curious about the receipt of Famm’in songs. 🙂


        • To be fair, I only briefly listened to one Famm’n song. By “not my thing,” I meant that it’s not the sound I would normally search out. That doesn’t mean I won’t grow to like it. I do like a lot of Faky’s stuff, so I’ll have to delve into Famm’n a bit more. I didn’t even know they existed until you mentioned them 🙂


          • Love the openness, as always. Yikes I hope I didn’t come across like I’m injecting Famm’in to the conversation just for the sake of promoting the group. I guess I just find song structures and anti-climaxes interesting, and you touched upon the topic somehow in this review.


  3. Would you review the unit songs of the album? They are superior to the title track and the Heize-produced “Hourglass” is one of the best kpop songs I have the pleasure listening to this year..

    I hope you would review the album!


    • I’ve only listened to the whole album one time through, but none of the tracks grabbed me beyond the Nell-produced ballad. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I just don’t think the general style of the album is for me.


  4. I think you’re going a bit harsh on this one.
    The vibe of the chorus is more of a slow groove than a powerful romp like their previous releases. I love that it cuts into half time after the build ups before hand. It makes me want to bust out into a slow body roll when the chorus drops. Love that they add extra elements into the chorus each time with the more melodic part in the second and then a double up in the final.
    That odd dance break to me is the least cohesive part of the song, it doesn’t fit the vibe to me but I guess they’re mandatory in Wanna One songs.
    I find it similar to Scentist by VIXX in vibe which you seemed disappointed with too.I am 100% with you on the weird produced vocal squiggles, they’re getting old VERY quickly but they aren’t that prevalent that it ruins the song for me.


    • Could you sense the frustration oozing out of every sentence in this review? I wonder if I’m subconsciously harder on Wanna One songs because I know the group has a short shelf life and, thus, less time for mediocre tracks.

      We’re definitely going to have to agree to disagree on this one. I hate that the song cuts into half time after the build ups… but that’s very much a personal preference. And while the vocal squiggles aren’t as prominent on this track as many others, I think their use is particularly irritating here because they seem so completely unnecessary. It’s not a horrible comeback, but I’m very underwhelmed.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Whatever have been signed up to Wanna One after TBO and “Beautiful” (I’d say, even B-sides in NWY are not better than TBO) was a total disappointment for me, too.
    The songs doesn’t even half-ass showcase the vocalists, the amount of autotune put during mixing/engineering is making my ears bleed. With this track, I barely can differentiate which vocalist’s part I’m hearing atm. The company is relaying way too much on the boys popularity. I personally put IPU into my list of worst K-pop albums of all time.

    But aside from that, all unit songs have been amazing. Like, it’s 807 times better than the title track.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. 100% agree.
    2 tons of songs in a year, and the only remarkable track still remains Energetic. Too sad to see such a talented group forced to randomize its stage performances with this cliches of EDM unpleasant routines.


  7. Pingback: Top Three K-Pop Songs of June 2018 | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

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