Over the course of their three year career, UP10TION have never developed a signature style. Instead, they pinball from concept to concept, making their comebacks quite unpredictable. Over the past few years, they’ve released some of my favorite K-pop tracks (exhibits A, B). But, just as often, they’ve returned with subpar material that feels too generic for its own good. Their March single Candyland fell into this latter category, and new track Blue Rose has its fair share of issues as well.
Stylistic autotune will never be to my taste, but the slathering of effects over Rose’s verses is particularly bad. I get that this approach is considered trendy within many circles, but I find it downright unpleasant. And unfortunately, its early prominence establishes a bad taste that the song is never really able to overcome. UP10TION have tackled dark, dramatic styles before to varying levels of success, but the combination of Rose’s inert tempo and fractured arrangement is oddly lifeless — and definitely humorless. There’s no sense of propulsion or energy within all of the track’s posturing.
Blue Rose’s one bright spot is its chorus, which impresses in fits and starts. The instrumental begins to gather steam here, grumbling with a gritty undertone that contrasts well with the powerful layered vocals on top. But too often, this centerpiece feels like a stubborn lawnmower struggling to get started. I kept expecting it to grow into something more memorable. This lack of payoff, coupled with the overly processed verses, makes Blue Rose one of my least favorite UP10TION title tracks.