With YG Entertainment in continual freefall, the company seems unable to release anything but threadbare solo albums from its artists. BLACKPINK’s stuck in a one-per-year promotional schedule, iKON is in limbo after losing its leader, and Treasure 13’s debut has been postponed for who knows how long. In their place, YGX (an agency subsidiary) has dropped the long-awaited solo debut from Viini — better known as JBJ’s Kwon Hyunbin.
Hyunbin is already well-known to fans through TV series like Produce 101 and Dunia, though he’s been quiet musically since JBJ’s disbandment in April of 2018. Though I’m familiar with his work in the group, I had no real idea what to expect from solo material. Hyunbin is also a model, and that’s my main takeaway from Genie (도깨비방망이). It’s a beautiful music video, but the song itself is the worst kind of musical nothing.
With a track like Genie, I feel like I’m reviewing an entire genre rather than an individual song. I might as well cut and paste my thoughts about any other K-pop release of this style. I don’t find anything appealing about the autotuned vocals, or the languid, dreary trap-driven instrumental. I don’t enjoy how the song maintains the same low energy all the way through, as if stuck in a depressing drug haze. The track doesn’t pull anything interesting from Hyunbin as a performer, nor reveal any charms beyond his looks. It shows no desire to be different or vital to the K-pop landscape. In short, I’d rather listen to the superior Genie any day of the week — and that right there should tell you all you need to know about whether our musical tastes align or not.
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