Song Review: U-Kwon – Fuego (ft. Reggae Peace Like A River)

Seeing U-Kwon’s name pop up on the K-pop release slate made me remember his group Block B for the first time in a while, and also made me realize how gradual their decline has been. Though not disbanded, the group seems to be in a state of purgatory, with some of its members in the military and others devoted to solo work or variety appearances. At their peak Block B were huge hit-makers – that rare idol group who could cross over to a more mainstream audience. It’ll be interesting to see if they end up reuniting in the next few years.

I always felt that U-Kwon was one of Block B’s most under-promoted members. He’s a jack-of-all-trades with charisma to spare. With that said, Fuego was probably never going to appeal to me. Technically, it’s a K-pop track. But, I think it’s more realistic to call it a dancehall reggae song that happens to be performed in Korean. I’ll never begrudge anyone the chance to perform what they want to perform, and U-Kwon obviously has an affinity for these genres. Sadly, I don’t share his enthusiasm.

On the plus side, Fuego knows exactly what it wants to be. U-Kwon has enlisted the help of Reggae Peace Like A River (better known to most of us as Skull & Haha) to add texture to the track. And rather than try to create some kind of K-pop hybrid, Fuego is straightforward and slavishly devoted to its roots. Fans of this sound will likely find much to love. Personally, I find the central synth loop to be squeaky and annoying, the melody to be dull and the instrumental to be one-note. But, this wasn’t really written with my taste in mind, so take my thoughts with a huge grain of salt.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 5

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2 thoughts on “Song Review: U-Kwon – Fuego (ft. Reggae Peace Like A River)

  1. I think that Block B’s strong, hard-hitting image is so strongly tied to the rapper line, Zico, Kyung and P.O have always been destined to outshine the other members in general. I don’t think that the company has been unfair with the member promotions though, it’s more of a case of underrated rather than under-promoted. Both Taeil and U-Kwon have been pushed to feature in programs that cater to their strong talents and what they want to do (like dance-show Hit the Stage where U-Kwon even won, and vocal shows like The Call for Taeil); even Jaehyo has had some variety and MC-ing gigs too (B-bomb is probably the member with the least promotion). Even in Block B’s MVs and stage performances, U-Kwon (and P.O) are often given the highlight of the songs.

    I do agree that U-Kwon is the jack of all trades with charisma to spare though, and I admire how open he has been on his relationship with his long-time girlfriend. That’s tough in the kpop idol world (and he has suffered attacks and malicious slander because of it).

    That said, I’m also not a fan of reggae, so this song didn’t really vibe with me either, but as a Block B fan, I’m glad they’re all individually still releasing things that they like.


  2. I agree, the 2nd half of 2017 and all of 2018 were a serious lull in quality for Block B. “Yesterday” was a surprise hit for them, but it was good not great for me. “Shall we dance” was intellectually interesting to listen to in a subtle way, but didn’t knock it out of the park. I play older songs like “Be the Light” and “Jackpot” many more times than the recent stuff. It was as if they lost their existential angst in the later years and were just making music to do the expected year’s release.

    Already 3 members are in the military, another 3 reportedly go next year. So we shall see what happens.
    Oh, this song. I went to a family wedding this summer, a cousin married a Columbian. The dance dj was all caribbean, latin, south american, reggae. A song just like this could have been on the play list, with ample libations, and packed dance floor filled with huge extended families of all ages (on both sides).
    But now, to be honest sitting soberly at my desk, I wouldn’t have listened through the whole song if it weren’t someone from Block B.


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