Super Junior are at the stage of their career where they can get away with anything they want, musically. And in the case of repackaged single 2YA2YAO! (it’s a mildly amusing pun in Korean), that means teaming up with Block B’s Zico for an uncharacteristic hip-hop track. In a happy bit of happenstance, Zico himself is currently riding high on the charts with the viral success of his single Any Song. Super Junior don’t need an assist from anyone at this point, but I’m sure they’re pleased that 2YA2YAO is releasing in the midst of this hype.
On its face, I didn’t think I would like this track. I haven’t enjoyed much of Zico’s recent work, and even when he composes idol songs (Produce X 101’s Move, for example), I find the results to be mixed. 2YA2YAO is also a mixed bag, but it does some very important things right. First, the song finds its groove early and (mostly) sticks with it. There’s no pussy-footing around in the form of tempo changes and fitful instrumentation. The beat is confident and big, bounding on an old-school blend of resounding bass and kicking percussion. I love the synth accents sprinkled throughout, which lend the production a bit of 90’s funk.
Almost every modern K-pop track has to be interrupted by a trap breakdown at some point. It’s like a new rule, and 2YA2YAO is no different. However, the song has enough sense to place this breakdown at an appropriate point during the bridge, rather than stalling momentum after the first chorus. It’s still easily the worst part of the track, but at least by the time it rears its head, 2YA2YAO has had plenty of space to build goodwill.
Melodically, the song is fine. The verses are largely taken over by hip-hop, which vacillates between fun and cringey. These segments are at their best when they trace the structure of the instrumental, creating a tight, propulsive arrangement. The hard-hitting chorus is catchy and charismatic, though I worry that its one-note appeal may grow tiresome in the long run. I also pine for less vocal effects during the hook. The song isn’t slathered in autotune, but I’d prefer that Super Junior nix the trendy vocal warping altogether. They don’t need it.
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