Since 2016, Nu’est’s title tracks have been emblematic of what I would call the Pledis Entertainment “house sound.” Each one was co-composed by the agency’s own producer Bumzu, and adhered to a similar instrumental approach. Sub-unit Nu’est W switched things up a bit in 2018, but this April’s lackluster Bet Bet continued exactly where 2016’s Overcome and Love Paint left off. This consistency in sound won the group many admirers, but I’ve never been into it. Too often, it just feels so dour and cumbersome. I missed the days of poppy, pre-2015 Nu’est.
Love Me isn’t exactly that — and it’s still a Bumzu/Baekho collaboration — but its streamlined, upbeat nature makes it my favorite Nu’est track in years. K-pop has combed over the deep house genre so completely these past years that it’s almost impossible to mine anything new from it. And truthfully, Love Me doesn’t conjure anything different or revelatory. But, it enlists the very best elements of this sub-genre and throws a series of easy, addictive hooks over the top.
The instrumental pounds with rhythmic house piano and filtered backing vocals that encircle the central refrain with an appealing warmth. In this way, Love Me plays like a sonic sequel to SHINee’s Good Evening — a substantial compliment in itself. There’s an efficiency to the structure that lends the Love Me‘s groove a brisk potency. The instrumental never dips or diverts. It just keeps chugging along with ever-renewing energy. If Bet Bet was a plodding hissy fit of a pop song, Love Me is its carefree cousin, gliding effortlessly into listeners’ ears. Nu’est has hinted at this potential with some of their past b-sides, but I’m delighted that they’ve chosen a song like this as a title track.
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