Before there was Gugudan, there were Sejeong, Mina and Nayoung, who made a splash during the first evaluation of Produce 101 season one. Their performance unleashed vocal firepower, but their work in Gugudan has mostly failed to show this off. However, that’s what sub-units are for. On one hand, the fact that Gugudan has spawned two units before fully establishing themselves as a group threatens to muddy the waters. But on the other hand, these girls clearly need an outlet to display their considerable talent.
SEMINA (세미나) seeks to be that outlet, giving the trio a chance to belt it out over a blast of brassy, old-school funk soul. The song feels like early Mamamoo, less concerned with gimmicks as it is with classic vocal showmanship. The girls drive the track with effortless confidence, wringing everything they can from its slight frame. This sense of commitment goes a long way in covering up SEMINA’s more derivative moments.
The song’s melody takes all the diversions you’d expect from this genre, bending and extending any available note. There’s no subtlety to its arrangement, or its performance. I would have preferred at least one sucker punch hook in place of all this vocal vamping, but after the cutesiness that has marred so much of Gugudan’s material, the girls’ desire to show off is understandable. They certainly bring the attitude, and their harmonies are airtight. The instrumental has an appealing warmth, refreshingly devoid of current trends. But in the end, the trio’s skill may be more memorable than the song itself.