I’m going to give you a spoiler right off the bat. I’ve listened to all five solo songs on AB6IX’s special mini album and there’s only one I like. It probably won’t take too much sleuthing to uncover which track that is, especially if you’ve been reading The Bias List long enough to know my musical taste. But rather than active loathing, I came away from the album with a sense of apathy. I liked AB6IX’s music quite a bit last year, but feared that it might grow a little too faceless when stacked up against more idiosyncratic groups. And while I don’t think that will happen with it comes to their full-group material, this 5NALLY project is the definition of faceless.
For me, the best solos are the ones that embrace a performer’s natural musical inclinations and talents. So much of the K-pop industry forces individual voices into conglomerate-like brands via their group concept, and that’s fine as long as you know what you’re signing up for. But, when it comes to solo projects, I think the concept should be closer tied to who that artist is as a person. When I think of AB6IX’s Donghyun, I picture a sentimental troubadour, guitar in hand. What a perfect opportunity this might have been to capitalize on that.
Instead, More (더 더) gives Donghyun the most generic of boy group tropes, targeted with a broad international audience in mind but winding up as a shadow of so many other plodding mid-tempos littering the charts. Yes, this song was co-written by Donghyun himself, but it feels more indebted to current trends than his own artistry. Fortunately, More has a better hook than Woong’s solo track last week, and I could see this being a bigger standout with different production. I would have loved a more organic arrangement, substituting a live band feel for the lethargic future bass we end up getting. That might have injected a bit of spontaneity and helped to capitalize on Donghyun’s playful personality.
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