Though ONEWE’s most recent single never made it onto any of my year-end lists, I ended up liking Regulus far more than my initial review let on. I enjoyed it despite its unnecessary, trap-inspired moments because when the song actually embraced ONEWE’s strength as a band, it totally soared. But overall, I don’t understand RBW Entertainment’s handling of ONEWE at all. Most of their music has squandered the group’s greatest assets in favor of ill-fitting trends. And with the members themselves participating in the composition of their songs, this may not be entirely agency-driven.
You would think that having Mamamoo’s Hwasa on board would make Q (모르겠다고) the band’s big breakthrough, but it’s easily the least-inspiring single the guys have released. Rather than cast ONEWE as the idol band they are, the song saddles them with the kind of uninspired trap beat you could find anywhere. And for the second time in a row, Q completely wastes frontman Yonghoon. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again. I consider him to be one of the most promising vocalists in K-pop right now, with performance skills to match. Yet, ONEWE’s music insists on spotlighting other (often autotuned) members. This isn’t a dig on them, but right now Yonghoon is a main vocalist who barely gets any time to shine. It’s frustrating.
Enlisting Hwasa as a duet partner steals more time away from the guys, though she delivers a reliably magnetic performance. Unfortunately, the slurry, repetitive melody doesn’t give her (or anyone else) much to do. Q’s structure riffs on the same general hook across its entire running time. This results in a head-nodding groove, but one that feels needlessly listless. Thank goodness for the jazzy guitar break towards the end that reminds us that these guys actually play instruments. I keep waiting for this rock band to release an actual rock song. Let the instrumentalists shine, let Yonghoon’s incredible vocals shine. Enough pussy-footing around.
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