With Clover, it feels like we’re entering the second stage of the post-Produce 101 boy group landscape. This will kick off in earnest next year when Wanna One disbands and its members are scattered throughout the industry. But before that, we had the dissolvement of popular 101 project group JBJ. Member Kim Donghan will have his solo debut next week, but first up is Longguo, who previously paired with agency-mate Shihyun last summer.
Longguo’s solo debut is another duet, this time with renowned singer/rapper Yoon Mirae. He’s certainly picked a dynamite partner, but the downbeat Clover doesn’t allow either artist to shine very brightly. Rather than return to the idol-pop favored by JBJ, the song positions Longguo as a k-r&b crooner in the vein of artists like Crush and DEAN. This particular style seems flush with talent at the moment, making it difficult for him to establish a uniquely identifiable touch. He gives a charming, polished performance, but lacks the tonal edge needed to truly elevate the genre.
Clover would be better off if it had been anchored by at least one killer hook. Instead, the track bops along pleasantly without much to distinguish verse from chorus. Yoon Mirae’s English-language injections of rap are the song’s most memorable moment, and that’s a problem when this is designed to launch a solo career (at least until Longguo is inevitably thrown back into boyband-dom). Its smooth groove paints an amiable summertime backdrop, if little else. File this under: background music.