In theory, boy group Hotshot stood to benefit big time from 2017’s second season of Produce 101. But despite member Sungwoon becoming part of Wanna One, the guys have struggled to stand out in K-pop’s ever-competitive industry. Both group comebacks came and went without much fanfare, and it’s unclear if that will improve now that Sungwoon is free to promote as a Hotshot member again. Perhaps this is why the guys have been teasing solo projects, starting with Roh Taehyun’s I Wanna Know.
Taehyun competed alongside Sungwoon during Produce 101, and found tremendous success as a member of project group JBJ after the series concluded. It’s strange, then, that his first solo work seems to be lacking industry hype. But, maybe this is an asset. A song like I Wanna Know doesn’t call for bombastic, over-hyped promotion. Rather than shoot for the stars, the track offers a fun, laid-back piece of generic dance pop that worms its way into your memory despite its low ambition.
Honestly, I was prepared to hate this song. Its lackadaisical pace and humdrum instrumental don’t bring anything new to the table. But, by the time I Wanna Know had finished, I found myself wanting to hear it again. In a weird way, its devotion to being completely generic pays off. Its uncluttered arrangement reminds me of mid-00’s K-pop, before the industry became over-saturated and dependent on western musical trends. This is as straightforward a pop song as you can imagine, anchored by a catchy chant-heavy chorus that proves to be quite charming. Taehyun’s cool, confident vocal performance helps to sell it, at times recalling debut-era Taeyang. Time will tell if I Wanna Know has anywhere near the staying power of the classics it seems to emulate.