Thinking back to K-pop’s most successful debuts, one factor remains the same. If you’re supported by a big agency, your chances of breaking through skyrocket. Everyone else has to fight for scraps, with the odd act making a name for themselves via a combination of perfect timing and luck. New boy group Lucente faces an uphill battle from the start, emerging from Noga Entertainment — an agency that must either be incredibly small or incredibly new. Try as I might, I can‘t find any sort of internet presence for Noga itself.
Given these ingrained challenges, I wonder if it’s smarter to go-for-broke with a daring sound, or hitch your wagon to the tried-and-true trends of the day. With Your Difference (뭔가 달라), Lucente opt for the latter. The song takes a hip-hop base and overlays tropical synths. Unsurprisingly, this results in the kind of sound we’ve heard a million times over the past few years. This familiarity makes it almost impossible to get a sense of just what kind of group Lucente seeks to be — or if they have any specific musical aspirations at all.
Thankfully, the track itself registers somewhere in the upper half of tropical-inspired knockoffs. Its chorus has an addictive swing to it, twisting its melody in unexpected ways and hinting at some impressively powerful vocals yet to be fully harnessed. I also quite like the driving pre-chorus. I’ll forget it almost instantly… but I like it. Make of that what you will.
It really is an odd type of pleasant. Definitely forgettable in the long run, but not a bad debut, and definitely a song I would actively search for rather than waiting for it to show up in a shuffled playlist. The melody is solid and I like it quite a bit, and I really don’t mind the tropical hip-hop instrumental— it fits the song nicely and is unique enough to me that I hardly remember it’s following trends at all. Not a superstar rookie group like ONF or Golden Child, who peddle a polished and lighter sound, but this is a darker musical side that I think has been a bit under-present in recent debut groups, so it’s (ironically) a breath of fresh air. I hope they do well.
I was thinkin’ about all the 2018 debuting rookie boy groups, and the landscape seems to be much darker than last years. Most of them – N.Tic, Target, Noir, NTB, Like A Movie, – passed completely under silence; others – Newkidd, Spectrum, D-Crunch – had some chance to be spotlighted but left no trace of them due to anonimous title tracks; others – Stray Kids – shined from the very first moment but “still haven’t found what thery’re looking for” (i. e. a unique style not to be considered as “the new BTS”).
Now it’s Lucente and Verivery to follow the path. And uhm, it’s a “so what?” in both cases.
KPop is full of unsuccessful debuts by groups that then turned into local and/or global sensations, but this time there’s a certain lack of concept and personality which tends to cover all these projects with indifference. I mean: why someone should support them? What have they to offer people together with a few minutes of boring EDM cliches?
I have no answer, but agencies and producers seem to have even less.
This isn’t REALLY trop laziness in spirit though. This actually has alright songwriting, come on now – someone probably put in at least several minutes coming up with it.
I’m wondering if you’ll listen to the rest of the album as well. I haven’t heard the whole thing yet, but there’s one song, “How About You”, that I really like. Hoping you’ll check it out and give me some feedback!
other than Stray Kids, 2018 is basically “year of the girl groups” as far as debuts go
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