Nearly nine years after his group’s debut, Infinite’s Dongwoo has finally released a solo album. Its been a long time coming. As one half of successful sub-unit Infinite H, his talent as a vocalist and rapper have positioned him to take on styles that aren’t usually associated with Infinite’s music. As a rabid Infinite fan, this puts me in an awkward position. Obviously, I adore Dongwoo. But, his musical touchstones don’t always align with mine. Such is the case with News — an oddly downbeat title track that precedes his military hiatus later this year.
Produced by BLSSD (one half of production team Rphabet, and the composer of Infinite’s 2018 single Tell Me), News draws on all of Dongwoo’s skills but muddles them within an overly dense soundscape. The song works its way through a lurching structure, vacillating between emotive moments of dark, minimalist crooning and synth-drenched, trap-inspired breakdowns. At the onset, it almost feels as if the track is going to grow into some twisted, shadowy version of Infinite’s Back, but the tempo never picks up.
I applaud the experimentation within the production itself. There are layers of interesting samples, including some evocative splashes of synth that point towards a much more interesting song. Its orchestral influences hearken back to the best of Infinite’s work, bringing a weighty atmosphere to a melody too simple to harness it. In the end, News feels more like an extended album intro. It certainly doesn’t sound like a title track, which actually makes it kind of ballsy. But as a showcase for Dongwoo, the song just doesn’t make much of an impact. Thankfully, News comes paired with a stronger partner in the form of Party Girl.
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I actually much preferred News over Party Girl. I’ve never heard anything like it. I can’t figure out which part is supposed to be the chorus (though I assume it’s the more emotional part after the glitchy segment that must be a pre-chorus?), and this unpredictability and mystery is something that I value a lot in a song. It’s definitely something different that’s not meant for everyone, and I think that’s great. Actually I really like all of the songs on the album, especially Gun, which is a very angsty-boy moment that I’m absolutely living for. Between News, Noir, Dalla Dalla, We Must Love, Piri, Señorita etc, it sounds like the trend for Kpop of 2019 will be to be different and unique, which is exactly what I was hoping for. If this trend persists, I think it’s possible 2019 could become one of the best years for Kpop in recent memory. I’m excited to see where the year takes us!
I knew this song would have its champions, and I totally get what you’re saying. I actually respect the thinking outside of the box that News does. I just wish it wasn’t so relentlessly downtempo. Given a different mood, I could easily see me loving this.
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