I was lucky enough to be in the audience when IMFACT’s NaNaNa (나나나) was first premiered at KCON LA, making this the rare (only?) K-Pop comeback I’ve heard live and in person before it was released in its studio version. It’s impossible to fully separate the live experience from the song, but it’s nice to hear the intricacies of the melody and production in a more focused setting. And even among all the bombast of a packed Staples Center, I could tell that NaNaNa was a winner right from the start.
IMFACT has a very limited discography, and it’s been very hit and miss since debut. Their sound has swung wildly from genre to genre, with few tracks really sticking the landing. NaNaNa is the latest diversion for the group, taking the popular deep house trend and melding it with moody electronics for a quietly anthemic dance track. It doesn’t start out very promising, with washed out synths and a murky, downbeat melodic introduction that recalls too many dour boy group comebacks of recent months. But, NaNaNa quickly kicks into gear as main vocal Jeup ushers in a brighter melody line.
From this point on, NaNaNa plays like a darker, more restrained version of ONF’s excellent Complete. Its first minute is a slow burn build, with EDM elements filtering in one by one before the deep house drop hits and the addictive chorus reveals itself. The simple “na na na” hook is an excellent use of Ungjae’s husky tone, and far less grating than April’s The Light. But the chorus really excels in its textural contrast. It’s not all gruff, staccato delivery, as Ungjae’s parts are immediately echoed by gorgeous, feather light vocals from the rest of the group. It’s a constant seesaw of descending and ascending notes, and that duality creates an absolutely beguiling hook. NaNaNa would be even stronger if its second verse and bridge didn’t retreat back to the muted energy of the song’s introduction, but there’s enough variation to make even these moments interesting.