At the risk of alienating their passionate base of fans, I’m not sure if LOONA and I will ever fully click. I get why they’re popular — the ambitious roll-out, the interconnecting storylines, the endless fan theories — but it’s been awhile since their actual music lived up to that hype. FavOrite was a promising pre-release, but its odd production held the song back. And Hi High (their official debut) goes hyper cute rather than delve into the more interesting sounds promised by some of the LOONA solos and sub-unit releases.
LOONA has returned to producers from the Monotree studio often throughout their pre-release run, and it makes sense that Hi High would see them team up once again. The song’s upbeat, synth-filled sound hearkens back to their first sub-unit — LOONA 1/3. It also feels a lot like something Lovelyz would record for one of their albums. Neither of these aspects is an automatic negative, but Hi High has a sense of “been there, done that” that’s surprisingly tame for such a high-profile debut.
My favorite part of Hi High actually comes right at the beginning, where we get some incredibly atmospheric, icy synths. Unfortunately, this is quickly jettisoned in favor of a much more generic instrumental. The verses move at a breakneck pace, leading to an aegyo-infused pre-chorus. From here, we move into love-it-or-hate-it territory. Hi High’s chorus is quite repetitive, and performed with a chirpy energy that will either thrill or grate depending on your taste. I’m somewhere in the middle, but I don’t imagine this relatively flat, ultra-peppy chorus will have much staying power. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, especially given the immense amount of love LOONA has received from many K-pop fans. But for now, I remain mostly mystified by their appeal.