Song Review: Golden Child – Wannabe

Good things come to those who wait. And wait. And wait.

Seriously, I spent most of this year moaning about how long it was taking for Golden Child to make a comeback. Injuries, acting schedules and other agency pursuits combined to create an unbearably long, thirteen-month hiatus. I was fearful that my favorite group had been forgotten. But, Woollim Entertainment finally came through at the very last moment, dropping a web-sitcom (!), followed by the announcement of the group’s first full album.

As much as I talk about wanting more bright energy in K-pop, I don’t think it’s Golden Child’s brightness that appeals to me. It’s the anthemic heft of their songs. The big choruses. The unabashed pop melodies. When it comes to these characteristics, I’ll have to get my fix on the rest of the album, because Wannabe is a very different beast.

Golden Child are not lying when they use the word “reboot” to describe their new image. Produced by in-house Woollim creator BLSSD, Wannabe takes their sound down a new avenue that’s much more in line with recent Infinite title tracks like The Eye and Tell Me. The instrumental and structure borrows many of the elements I’m sick of in K-pop, but twists them in appealing directions. Opening with dark, atmospheric synth, the first verse is a slow burn of rising intensity. There’s a lot of empty space here, which allows for focus on the group’s underrated vocals. Whatever quibbles I have with the song, I appreciate that it gives the members a chance to shine in new and unexpected ways.

From here, Wannabe moves into a more percussive segment, as the pre-chorus is joined by an understated groove. The actual chorus is more intense, layering vocal chants over a distorted electronic beat that goes on to forge a fitful dance break. I would’ve preferred something even more dynamic, but I’m delighted that the instrumental is more idiosyncratic than the trap retread it could’ve been.

Wannabe’s second verse switches things up by playing with both melody and structure, injecting a rap break at an unexpected moment. This keeps momentum climbing, which is a rarity for songs of this style. Wannabe constantly ebbs and flows, but never collapses or stalls. That’s key to the track’s success. But even at three and a half minutes, the song feels too short. I was really hoping to hear it build to a peak for its climax, but it fizzles out after only two choruses. This is going to take some getting used to.

In the end, I’m delighted to have Golden Child back. Wannabe is not the style I’d like to hear from them, but they manage to bring their unique energy to the track in a way that sets it apart from the many “dark” boy group offerings cluttering the market. With some refinement here and there, this could prove to be a very exciting second act for the guys. Now, bring on an album repackage with that Chaser-esque Sweetune track we all know you’re capable of!

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 10
 RATING 8.75

Be sure to add your own rating by participating in the poll below!


13 thoughts on “Song Review: Golden Child – Wannabe

  1. Damn you’re really biased cuz you complained about how the song isn’t your favorite Golden Child release but still gave it a 10 on bias. Guess the sentimental value this track has outweighs the flaws of the song.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I too am biased for Golcha, but not biased enough apparently. I didnt have my hopes up after the teasers and still feel a little disappointed. It’ s like Seventeens recent releases: sure, it sounds more interesting than cookie cutter moody edm, but I just do not enjoy listening to it. I did not remember the song at all after listening to it once. As for the rest of the album, I am astonished that She’s My Girl wasnt chosen to be the title! I very much prefer it over Wannabe (just like Lately and No Matter What). I’ ll be looking forward to your reviews!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree. It’s a total waste. To quote a tweet I sent earlier this morning:

      “She’s My Girl should’ve been the title. Why, oh why wasn’t She’s My Girl the title?!?
      THAT’s how you “mature” a sound without losing your musical identity.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • I highly disagree. Seventeen’s completely ditched their sound and just borrowed Nu’est and everything else that’s “in” in the kpop market. Uninteresting, typical.

      This is Golden Child’s first take on this darker theme and even if they borrowed from Infinite’s sound the song offers something different than what the rest of boy groups are doing.

      However, I do agree She’s my girl would’ve been awesome for a title track, but sounds more of like something Verivery would do if they were to evolve their sound.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is fantastic. I don’t mind my boy groups changing concepts (and changing their sound in consequence) if it’s done well and make it their own.
    I wasn’t that afraid when I heard they were doing this reboot and the “dark child” chant arose among fans because I know how Woollim does dark concepts.

    The teasers made this song sound incredibly haunting, I was almost mesmerized by the sound. So I was already so open to this new Golcha second act. I just love how dynamic this track is, there’s some interesting chords in there. Very spacious too. Impressed with the balance in vocals and dance they managed to achieve. I’ll have to check their album out.


  4. I don’t know if I like the Golcha pivot quite yet.
    But I agree there are other stronger songs on the album that coulda shoulda been the title track. My vote would be for “Lately”. “She’s my Girl” isn’t bad – it sounds like Shinee to me.

    Incidentally, this happened to me with their album last year – I loved “Lady”. I didn’t even download “Its U” until much much later.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Initially, when I heard Golcha was finally coming back but also making the switch to the textbook ‘dark’ boy group concept. I was scared because it just seems to be the ‘it’ thing now to gain some extra popularity
    HOWEVER, Golden Child isn’t a Woollim group for nothing! I really enjoy how the way Wannabe progresses, like it’s always keeping you on your toes rhythmically and not always being the same, while being entrancing at the same time. Plus it doesn’t feel ‘typical dark’ either (although I feel that’s my bias talking).
    And well….having it on repeat for about 5 days straight, it might be one of my top songs of the year!


  6. I’ve listened to other Golden Child title tracks and definitely was not expecting this. I’m not really a fan but I was still anticipating their comeback. When I saw it being a dark concept, I gave up but tried it again later. I haven’t listened to any of the other tracks on the album, but I like Wannabe now. I would definitely agree that it should be longer. It left me hanging, but I still really like it. It’s different from basic dark concepts which I’m really glad for.


  7. I don’t really like this one, I’m more on the “bright” child. DamDaDi, It’s U and Genie are my jam. I almost gave up on listening to the whole album but thankfully I didn’t because I love the last three songs.


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