It’s been over two years since we’ve heard from T-ara’s Hyomin, and though her last single didn’t set the charts alight, it’s always nice to have a K-pop veteran back in the spotlight. Her solo career is no stranger to courting controversy, making new comeback Mango feel overly tame in comparison. Sure, the music video trades in the kind of sexy confidence of her past work, but the song itself is a bit of a bore.
Mango takes the kind of laid-back, trap-inspired beat we’ve heard so much of lately and overlays Hyomin’s bright pop tone. This contrast between song and singer is the single most interesting thing that Mango does, but it’s not enough to compensate for an inert hook and repetitive instrumental. Hyomin seems eager to tackle a brazen HyunA-esque hip-hop sound, but the arrangement feels more like an annoying jingle than a gauntlet-throwing statement.
The instrumental’s xylophone-esque percussion is ear-catching at first, but wears out its welcome quite quickly. Mango feels claustrophobic, pinned in by its unwillingness to experiment. It’s a song crying out for an incredible chorus, where the production opens up to play with dynamics. Instead, we get a repetitive riff on the word “mango” and a few extra trap beats that raise the tempo but never elicit much of a spark. Even the promise of a mid-song breakdown fizzles, as the track immediately heads back to square one.