Just a day after IU and Suga teamed up to deliver the kind of superstar collaboration that the digital charts wet themselves over, BOL4’s Ahn Jiyoung and EXO’s Baekhyun have paired to unleash some healthy competition. But while yesterday’s Eight bucked expectations as a driving pop track, Leo (나비와 고양이) sounds exactly how you would expect it to. I’m sure this will have little to no bearing on its chart success, but it makes for a comparatively forgettable product.
This will sound unnecessarily harsh, but Leo is what I call a “nothing song.” I listen to it and – yes, there’s music… yes, there are lyrics… yes, there’s a performance – but no element draws me in. Both artists have highly recognizable, highly lauded voices and certainly enjoy well-established fan bases. But, Leo is little more than musical mush. Its soft, jazzy instrumental is Korea’s go-to for springtime fare, wafting in and out without leaving a trace behind. It’s music to nap to, and I guess that has its place.
However, “music to nap to” doesn’t give its performers much to do. Leo is so drowsy that Jiyoung and Baekhyun can’t help but sound bored. Even when they come together for some nice harmonies during the chorus, there’s no spark. That’s not to say that this had to be some high-tempo banger to be decent. There are ways to craft a satisfying mid-tempo, using inventive melody or dynamic arrangement. Instead, Leo coasts the entire way through, intent to ride its easy, breezy appeal without taking a single chance. We’ve mostly been spared this kind of lazy springtime material this year, so I guess we were past due. It’s just a shame that this regrettable template had to be channeled by two performers as celebrated as Jiyoung and Baekhyun.
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