Song Review: Cignature – ASSA

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.

 Hooks 7
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.75

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9 thoughts on “Song Review: Cignature – ASSA

  1. I’m quite the opposite: I thoroughly enjoyed Nun Nu Nan Na because it was perky and I liked the production choices (that bass!), plus the chorus was actually sung for once, not just one word shouted over some background noise. This lead to me having high hopes for Assa, especially when I heard the build-up, however I was let down by the chorus (it was the exact opposite of what made Nun Nu Nan Na refreshing for me). Oh well

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comments pretty much sum up my own. That descending vocal part (@1:12/2:11/2:57) reminds me of a similar vocal part in gugudan OGUOGU’s “ICE CHU”. I really wanted this to be a good drop from them, but even my heavy bias for Jeewon can’t save this piece. It sucks because you can hear a really good song hiding in the scaffolding of this.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. oof. everything in the production (the instrumental, the choreography, the outfits) points to this being a “girl crush” song, but then you have the girls’ vocals. from what i know about these girls from The Unit, they have pretty lightweight vocals as a group, and how much of that comes to that being their natural tones vs. the vocal training/direction being given to them throughout their idol lives… it’s so disappointing.

    now i’m just imagining if Hinapia had gotten this song instead (as another, somewhat young group; i can’t just throw a group like SNSD into the mix like that)… i think they could’ve really done it justice!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m really rooting for these girls and I want them to live up to their “cignature” name so badly, but they need to be releasing stuff that’s truly unique to them….yet those high pitched vocals are just so irritatingly par-for-the-course. Everything else, the instrumental, the MV visuals, the SUITS!! are great but they just need to go that extra step.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Vocal production is definitely the weak point of this track. Yeah, it can be chirpy and annoying at times, but that comes with the K-pop territory. But that doesn’t bother me as much as it could thanks to the interesting backing track. It’s always refreshing to hear acoustic sounding instrumentation like the bass guitar (yeah I know it’s not real but it beats they usual monosynth or 808). The mashup of multiple musical genres is well done. The way the pre-chorus folds down to mono before exploding into stereo for the chorus is a bit heavy handed but gets the job done. If they had spent more time refining the topline – some of it is pretty weak – this could be a real breakout track for the group. Perhaps it still will be..

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I agree with other comments, there is a good song buried in here. I’m thinking that perhaps this would have been better as a boy band song. Perhaps our current favorite kitsch group, Dongkiz. Ooh, yeah, Dongkiz doing this song.

    A boy voice would have more growl for the lower parts, and a falsetto sound for the higher parts. There would be more color to the vocals. Here, for nearly all of it, the girls are all in the mixed voice, and there isn’t much variation in the intensity or timbre. How many girls are in this group? It looks like 7, but sounds like 2 or 3 girls.

    The first few measures sound borrowed from SuJu Super Clap.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I went back and listened to Na nu na na, and I swear upon casual listen that the vocals for the songs could be swapped easily. I hear future mashup! The instrumental is different, but the vocals notsomuch.
      Whoever does their styling has style.


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