It’s hard to believe, but it’s been five long years since Bigbang’s Seungri last released solo music. In the meantime, his fellow members have had their chance in the spotlight, cementing their individual styles as Seungri threw much of his attention into lucrative business ventures. As time passed, the thought of a 2018 solo project became more and more nebulous. It was harder to imagine what a modern Seungri track would sound like. But with 1, 2, 3! (셋 셀테니), he smartly embraces his role as charismatic showman, going retro with a comeback that sounds different from anything else released this year.
Like its stunning movie-musical video, 1, 2, 3 bursts with energy from the start. Its guitar-led verses recall Winner before they went tropical, relying on Seungri’s effortless appeal to drive the track. He sounds great here, imbuing each line with a confident swagger that makes these segments compelling. The hand clap beat brilliantly captures the 50’s aesthetic the song strives for, and gives him plenty of percussive energy to play around with. Too often in 2018, verses amount to little more than listless build-up. But here, they’re the star of the show.
1, 2, 3 was co-written by Teddy, whose recent work has often favored instrumental drops over fleshed-out choruses. It’s hard not to imagine how jaw-dropping the song could have been if given a full chorus, but the drop here isn’t bad. It feels a bit muted in comparison to the energetic verses, but its chanted hooks give it more life than most songs of this structure. Each element fuses together to create one of the year’s catchiest tracks, though I wonder how well its repetitive quality will age in the long term. But for now, the song is utterly charming and a breath of fresh air amidst all of modern K-pop’s chill, tropical and EDM trends.