Song Review: Apink – %%

Apink have never been out of the spotlight for long in Korea, but they enjoyed an unexpected bump last summer with the ear-catching I’m So Sick. Heading in an edgier dance direction turned out to be a boon for the girls, so it’s no surprise that new single %% (응응) once again enlists production team Black Eyed Pilseung for an atmospheric, synth-fueled comeback. But while the song takes many of its cues from Sick’s template, it can’t quite match the effortless appeal of its successor.

That isn’t to say that %% is in any way a failure. Its primary job is to maintain and build upon Apink’s new sound, and it certainly accomplishes the task. Opening with a brief distorted vocal sample that becomes one of its signature hooks, the instrumental quickly rushes into a swirling synth arpeggio that previews the standout pre-chorus that is yet to come. Like I‘m So Sick, the instrumental choices are spot-on, and quickly establish an ultra-cool tone that mixes the retro with the modern.

If %% faces any obstacle, it’s in the form of a vague chorus. Not every pop song has to be hit-you-over-the-head catchy to be a success, but %% could’ve done with a stickier hook at its core. What we get is breezy and refined, but not as memorable as the best Apink title tracks. Luckily, the song’s endlessly evocative atmosphere helps to compensate. Around every corner are wisps of robust background harmonies, fitful shifts in percussion and splashes of sophisticated synths. That’s enough to get %% across the finish line, and should maintain the momentum the girls began to harness last year.

 Hooks 7
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8


10 thoughts on “Song Review: Apink – %%

  1. A lot of reviewers, commenters etc. have pointed out that they thought the chorus of the song was a bit undistinguished. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I don’t feel this way at all lol. I think the chorus is pretty clear; it’s preceded by a very percussive pre-chorus that builds to a swift drum kick, which really alerts you to the chorus. Also, the song gives you a clue to what the chorus sounds like in the very beginning when it presents the icy, atmospheric instrumental as its introduction. Sure, it’s not Lil Touch or That Day, but I think the chorus sets itself apart enough to be easily recognized. I guess sometimes it’s just a matter of what suits your taste. The one part of the song that I thought left a little to be desired was the ending. I love the inclusion of the instrumental, as it really brings the song full circle considering it was also included in the intro. This instrumental dance break is followed by the post-chorus hook, which makes it feel sort of empty, as if there should’ve been another full chorus inserted between the two elements. I think this could’ve been a better option because with that we also could’ve gotten some more ad-libs and maybe an I’m So Sick guitar-blastoff moment, which would’ve really given it an epic ending. That being said, I’m perfectly satisfied with the song, even though I wonder what could’ve been. I think Apink suits and slays the vibes of their latest comebacks more than anyone ever could’ve predicted, and I hope they continue to expand their horizons as a group and individually.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the thorough review, Nick! I love “%%” and Apink’s transformation to an edgier concept. And the other songs in the album are mellow enough to keep me as a fan. Thank you for your insightful reviews.


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