When it comes to pop music, everyone’s got their biases. But, being a fan of an entire agency is a uniquely K-pop proposition. It’s akin to being a devotee of Western companies like Marvel or Apple — knowing that your taste so closely aligns with their output that you’re bound to support anything they create.
Such is the case with Woollim and me. They gave me an ultimate bias group in Infinite, and a new-gen bias in Golden Child. Lovelyz remains one of my favorite K-pop girl groups, even if their sound isn’t something I usually go for. I can’t help rally behind Woollim even when they make dubious decisions (where is that long-fabled Golden Child comeback, anyway?)
So, when it comes to the agency’s new girl group Rocket Punch, I’m arriving with nothing but anticipation. Whether it’s quirky synthpop for Lovelyz or boisterous pop rock for Golden Child, Woollim artists have a history of debuting with a signature identity. With this in mind, Rocket Punch’s Bim Bam Bum (빔밤붐) is a head-scratcher. Its tropical-meets-electronic sound is the most generically trendy debut Woollim has ever delivered. With half of the members already known to the public via Produce 48, I wonder if the agency just didn’t feel that a fresh style was needed. That lack of musical ambition would certainly follow the post-Produce template!
Either way, Bim Bam Bum is solid if uninspiring. Its greatest asset is its unique structure, which incorporates secondary choruses as the song grows. Composed by the Iggy/Youngbae team (best known for crafting a near-flawless seven-single run for Gfriend) the track trades their hard-hitting synths for more amorphous production quirks. I do like the fairytale-like flutter that pops up every now and then in the background, but otherwise this is a sound palette we’ve heard too many times before, and fails to distinguish Rocket Punch from the crowd.
On first listen, I was afraid that the titular hook during Bim Bam Bum’s first chorus would be all the song had to offer. Thankfully, things grow interesting as a brisk second verse builds toward more fleshed-out melody. This trend continues during the song’s potent bridge, which ushers in a climactic chorus to finish things off. The problem is that Bim Bam Bum’s instrumental doesn’t answer this creative structure strongly enough. It builds in fits and starts, but is too indebted to its tropical base to paint outside the lines. I’ve come to expect a fuller sense of musicality when it comes to Woollim artists, so by this metric Bim Bam Bum is a bit of a disappointment.
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I’m going to be honest, the first time through I didn’t make it past the second chorus.
So I listened to it again, just to make sure, and yeah no this is basic girl kpop for me.
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I really wanted to like Rocket Punch because Lovelyz are one of my favorite groups and I was hoping that some of their appeal would cross over, but I don’t think this was a very interesting debut. It’s not bad but even after listening to it multiple times I can’t for the life of me remember what any of it sounds like. The B-sides weren’t great either. There’s only really one of them that sounds similar to this, the rest just sound like Lovelyz outtakes with weaker vocals.
I think the bit about the former Produce 48 contestants is right, and I think it also is important that Woolim is a lot more of an established company now than when they debuted Infinite/Lovelyz. Groups like this don’t feel the need to put their best foot forwards because they know they have a built in fanbase and the results are uninspiring products that don’t do much beyond justify their own existence. I had similar feelings towards Itzy and Cherry Bullet.
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Every time you mention Golden Child I smile to myself, I’ m glad I’ m not the only one anticipating their next comeback (which is really overdue at this point, come on woollim TT). That aside, I think this debut is underwhelming. Maybe my expectations for woollim groups have grown too high..
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