When it comes to new K-pop releases, April has been unusually slow — like… practically barren. The triple punch of BLACKPINK, BTS and Twice seems to have scared everyone else away, leaving only the rookiest of rookies to write about. Usually, girl group Hashtag would be too under-the-radar to warrant a full review on this site, but beggars can’t be choosers. Nobody else is making a comeback.
Hashtag debuted in 2017 with a cute, poppy style and haven’t really been heard from since. I doubt many listeners remember them at all, and that’s fine because new single Freesm (not the CLC album, by the way) upends their previous style for something more hard-hitting. It’s a welcome shift, as the song’s club-ready beat gives the girls a better platform for their talents. It’s also much more in line with today’s trends, which have been favoring girl groups with a bit more edge to their performance.
Unfortunately, Freesm comes across as quite generic. This is a common symptom of low-budget promotions, which tend to replicate popular sounds with less aplomb than top tier groups are able to muster. Freesm lacks the kind of winning hook that would help it stand out. Instead, we get a highly repetitive refrain that functions almost like an instrumental drop. The verses offer the kind of sing-talk that simply fills space. Much better is the instrumental, which melds KARD-esque tropical influences with a classic dance floor pulse. The song is at its best when the production hits the hardest — most evident right as the pre-chorus transitions into the hook. My advice for the group? Forgo trends and focus on crafting a more uniquely identifiable sound. Also, don’t wait another nineteen months to release new music.