I often write about how important it is for a K-pop group to develop a signature style. But, there comes a point when repetition becomes self-plagiarism. This is where Momoland exists now. Ever since the viral success of 2018’s Bboom Bboom, each title track they’ve released has sought to replicate that exact sound. This was sustainable during follow-up BAAM, but tanked with last spring’s I’m So Hot. Unfortunately, Thumbs Up is more of the same.
This comeback arrives with less vocal firepower, as members Yeonwoo and Taeha have left the group and Daisy’s future plans remain in question. Momoland have always been a group in flux, adding and losing members with equal frequency, but you wouldn’t know it from their music. Despite the roster change, Thumbs Up slavishly adheres to the template set out for it, down to the repetitive hook and second-verse rap break. The Powers That Be need to understand that “going viral” is not something you can replicate by doing the exact same thing more than once. Sadly, each new song that Momoland releases only dilutes Bboom Bboom’s legacy.
For its part, Thumbs Up delivers some decent verses. The fast-paced electro pulse has a swerving energy that hearkens back to all those great T-ara singles, but the track is never able to find a memorable melody to go along with the instrumental. And any goodwill that Thumbs Up establishes is undone by an obnoxious hook that’s more catchphrase than chorus. Its first half offers a robust blast of brass, only to devolve into a plonky saxophone riff that feels dated and predictable. And that pretty much sums up the song as a whole. It’s a case of ever-diminishing returns, with Momoland the victims of their own unexpected success.
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