Rainbow Bridge World’s ambitious 2019 includes the debut of two new boy groups — ONEUS and ONEWE. We’re already heard from both, through variety shows like Produce 101 and The Unit and pre-debut releases like last September’s Last Song. But though the agency has found massive success with girl group Mamamoo, they’ve yet to launch an equally successful male group. That may change soon, with ONEUS’s bombastic Valkyrie (발키리) bringing bucketloads of potential to the table.
Unlike ONEWE’s band focus, ONEUS is dedicated to dance music. As such, Valkyrie is a hodgepodge of influences, held together by a dominant energy that demands attention. Even if it takes a few brief missteps, the song does one thing very well: it melds its modern EDM throb (think BTS’s DNA) with more classic K-pop tropes. And it does this all with an undeniable sense of style.
Riding on a catchy guitar loop, the opening verse pulls us through a tunnel of moody melody and assertive hip-hop. But just as things begin to slow down, we’re presented with a chorus that could have been pulled straight from 2013. Distorted electronics join the fray as the swirling hook unveils itself. It’s not the strongest refrain I’ve ever heard, but it’s delivered with drive and panache. With so much going on, Valkyrie is at its worst when it falls into the kind of dreaded trap breakdown that has waylaid too many boy group songs over the past few years. This happens twice, and the second drop is the biggest bummer. Thankfully, it’s quickly followed by a cool segment that slows things down before building to a cinematic gun shot that clears space for the final chorus to rip back in. Valkyrie isn’t perfect, but it’s ambitious. And for that, it makes me very excited to see where ONEUS go next.