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?