When writing about their debut Nun Nu Nan Na, I gave Cignature a lot of flack for an approach that’s plagued too many current girl groups. More often than not, their performance style favored chirpy, infantile affectations rather than robust singing, making their music feel more like a nursery rhyme or playground taunt. Follow-up single ASSA (아싸) continues this unfortunate trend, but this time around those thin vocals are supported by much more interesting and addictive production.
If I was listening to the instrumental alone, I’d be raving about ASSA’s verve and willingness to experiment. Its verses fuse bass guitar with insistent snare pulled right from a drum line. This segues brilliantly into a synth-heavy build that culminates in a very satisfying disco drop. Things become even more thrilling at the song’s climax, where the production goes full-on techno for a galvanizing finale – the likes of which could have easily backdropped a classic T-ara track. This is all very promising, and points toward some instrumental trends I’d love to see flourish this year in K-pop.
But true to form, ASSA is let down somewhat by the group itself. I have no doubt that Cignature are talented. You don’t make it through trainee life without skills. However, I can’t help but imagine how awesome ASSA would have sounded with a powerful vocal arrangement. Instead, the girls are forced into the same lightweight, sing-song style and bratty chants that have characterized so many 2020 title tracks. From Weki Meki to Elris to Rocket Punch, even many of the stronger comebacks have succumbed to this style. It’s simply not for me, and holds ASSA back from being truly unique. With that said, the song is still goofy fun, even when its chorus devolves into a weird kewpie doll coo.
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