You’ll never see me advocating for K-pop trends. Longtime readers will know that cut-and-paste trendiness (often of the tropical variety) has been one of my biggest criticisms of the industry as a whole. That extends to this burgeoning Latin trend, which may easily sink its teeth into the next few years of K-pop’s future. I hope not. I’ve got nothing against Latin music or any other genre, but I do have one hell of a hard time with uninspired uniformity.
With that said, one can hardly blame Super Junior for pursuing this particular style. Their Korean fanbase has stabilized (and likely plateaued) in a way that most groups of their age tend to experience. Yet, they’ve found a late-career boon in the Latin market. April’s Lo Siento helped foster this success, and the group is looking to cement it with the release of One More Time. They’ve even collaborated with popular Latin group, Reik. I’m in the minority when it comes to international K-pop collaborations. Rather than thrill at the exposure it brings to global listeners, I fear that these cultural exchanges will actually dilute the industry’s more idiosyncratic leanings. It’s really a fine line between outreach and appropriation — but that’s way too big a conversation for a short Super Junior review.
So, on to the song.
Despite all of my soapbox diatribes, I actually like One More Time quite a bit. The group’s overall sound has improved drastically now that main vocal Ryeowook is back in the fold. Reik are incorporated smartly, providing the song’s bouncy instrumental and joining in during the chorus. The track definitely leans more towards straight-up Latin pop than traditional K-pop sounds, but the layered vocals in the chorus are enough to connect this with Super Junior’s past work. And above all, the hook is unrelentingly catchy. The melody has a classic touch, borrowing from early 00’s pop rather than the modern reggaeton influences of its instrumental. This timeless appeal suits Super Junior surprisingly well. I don’t think I want them to transform into a Latin group full-time, but they can definitely pull it off.