In a year that’s seen K-pop’s new guard begin to supplant its old guard, what could be more welcome than the long-awaited return of ex-2NE1 member Park Bom? And better yet… she’s not alone! Spring (봄) features fellow 2NE1er Sandara Park, reuniting the two after what seems like an endless wait. But… the excitement doesn’t stop there. The song was produced by modern legend Brave Brothers, who is working with Bom for the first time.
This set-up raises expectations unfairly high, and Spring struggles to fill them. That doesn’t mean that the song is bad, but its mere existence feels more galvanizing than its overall sound. It’s fantastic to hear Bom’s voice again. She has her critics, who like to pick apart her style and technique. But, it’s not always about adhering to what looks good on paper. Her vocalization may not work for most performers, but her raw tone perfectly matches its equally unpolished delivery. In the hyper-perfect world of K-pop performances, she’s always felt like a breath of fresh air.
That quality goes a long way in buoying Spring’s appeal. The song itself is nothing special. The production feels unusually muddled for a Brave Brothers track, without any element really standing out. I’m a longtime fan of choirs in pop songs, but Spring’s melody is never as theatrical as it should be. Its drawn out structure plays to Bom’s strengths, and Sandara offers a memorable blend of hip-hop and vocals during her verse. But overall, the track lacks movement. It seems stuck at one energy level, even as it builds to its dramatic, chorused finale. Most of us (myself included) will be too excited about Bom’s return for any of this to matter much, but I trust that bigger and better things are yet to come from her.