Originally scheduled for debut in March, COVID-19 pushed back Secret Number’s first single album to May. And, as any new act is wont to do, they’re confidently asking us: Who Dis? Extra points for the intentionally bad spelling and grammar. But though that title might conjure images of cringe-inducing “hip-hop hands” and misguided hair styles, Who Dis actually throws back to a different time in K-pop. It would have fit in perfectly with 2015’s slate of brass-heavy girl group singles.
Seriously, upon listening to Who Dis, I thought I had gone back a few years. This isn’t a bad thing. After all, 2015 K-pop >>> 2020 K-pop. But, it did surprise me. The track’s instrumental isn’t at all inventive, but I’ll take its straightforward energy and driving percussion. The central brass loop has potential to grate. Thankfully, it’s used sparingly, replaced with a more buoyant arrangement for the chorus.
I also appreciate how Who Dis doesn’t force the girls into an affected aegyo-meets-girl-crush style. For the most part, they give a clean, direct performance that emphasizes power and vocal blend. With that said, I would have loved to hear a big belter like Ailee really attack the chorus. As evidenced by the satisfying pre-chorus, Secret Number clearly have some talented vocalists, but the song would have been improved by a bravura performance as its centerpiece. Instead, much of the track’s personality falls to the group’s rapper, who infuses the post-chorus with a fun sassiness. Ultimately, Who Dis exists just on the razor’s edge of “generic,” but its energizing sense of verve helps it stand out.
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