Review

Song Review: LOONA – Butterfly

The other day, I cobbled together a playlist of every LOONA-related song and hit the shuffle button. I’ve had my gripes about their music in the past (mostly tied to personal taste rather than objective quality), but hearing the breadth of their sound was quite a striking experience. In less than two years, the girls have tackled a great variety of styles, tied together with fan-friendly lore that’s helped establish a passionate following. With that said, neither of their full-group title tracks hit me particularly hard, and new single Butterfly’s musical choices just aren’t for me.

Produced by G-High from the Monotree team, Butterfly adheres to many of the atmospheric touches that have elevated the group’s best work. And throughout the opening verse, LOONA draw on the strength of that aesthetic to craft a moody melody that slowly builds interest. As the vocals begin to pitch up for the evocative pre-chorus, it appears that we’re headed towards something quite special.

Unfortunately, Butterfly climaxes in the kind of languid drop chorus that has outstayed its welcome in global pop music. Instrumental hooks like this rarely elicit sparks anymore, but when they do it’s because the loops feel novel or inventive. Butterfly’s drop recycles the same kind of bleary synth mush we’ve heard too often, sacrificing the song’s energy instead of bringing it to a new level. Devoid of a fleshed-out melodic refrain, the chorus opts for a high-pitched “fly like a butterfly” hook that will likely divide opinion. For me, the key is simply too high to enjoy. I’m impressed that the girls can hit these notes, but there’s just not much to grab onto outside of that novelty. Too often, the song feels like mood for the sake of mood, lacking the engaging framework to support its lofty ambitions.

 Hooks 6
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7

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3 thoughts on “Song Review: LOONA – Butterfly

  1. I’m torn with this one, but I’m leading towards loving it. I remember watching one of the teasers for it and hearing the instrumental and saying, “this better not be the chorus.” Well, turns out it is. This was incredibly underwhelming at first. But, this release has many, many elements that make up for it being somewhat predictable. Firstly, the MV and the message. The MV is absolutely gorgeous, and it displays the message of diversity and empowerment of women–all women. The inclusivity in the MV is spot-on, definitely the best I’ve seen in a Kpop video. The theme of a “butterfly,” of being transcendent, is felt in echoes throughout the song and MV. While the chorus isn’t all that it could be, something about it feels existential and reflective, perhaps the feeling of a sort of eternalness now that you’ve broken the boundaries around you and emerged from your cocoon, as it were. While the instrumental is kind of boring, I appreciate that they give it more length than most artists would, this gives the feeling that it is important, that it is meant to be heard and felt by the listener. To me, this elevates the chorus from boring, predictable simplicity to a more meaningful straightforwardness. Apart from the chorus, I like all other elements of the song, except I wish we could’ve had something more for the last bit. I love the album, and I hope (and predict) that you choose either “Satellite,” “Colors,” or “Where You at,” (probably this one) as your buried treasure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry, there won’t be a buried treasure for this album. Of the b-sides, Where You At is probably my favorite. But ultimately, the entire album is just too downbeat for me. I’ve yet to join the Loona hype train. It could still happen, I suppose. I hope so!

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  2. I agree in a lot of aspects; compared to the ++ b-sides and some past solo and group material, the xx album feels a lot more polarizing on first listen, including the title track. Butterfly’s chorus especially –the high pitch (although it’s been feeling somewhat more natural with more listens) and how it just repeats. Still, I really did enjoy the atmosphere (I want to say vibe?) I got from the song and watching the music video from the first listen. I especially loved watching their stage performance (the choreograph is really something, and this is from someone who loves Seventeen), and getting to watch them dance all throughout was probably the first time I didn’t think the chorus was too bare. I agree that Butterfly is still lacking, especially from a melodic standpoint with that sort of drop, but somehow I’m not overly bothered. It feels like the spotlight of the song is less its moment by moment effect and more the overall soundscape. From the vocals, starkness of the chorus, and reverb-ed out instrumentals: everything fits the sonic (environment? theme? I don’t know). The thing that still irks me the most is the repetitive instrumentation, I really wish they included vocals in the last chorus or just did something to change it up as the song progressed. I recently read a translation from one of the members which made me think: “If the metric of success for a girlgroup is to have its name known to all the public and be loved with a catchy hook, I think we are forging a new path rather than following that exactly” – Yves. It kind of made the song click a little more. Butterfly does sound a lot more like a b-side than a title track in a lot of aspects: it’s missing that melodic hook or catchy line I was expecting. But even though the song isn’t near outstanding, I can’t help but be even more interested in where they’ll take their music next.

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