Ex-Wonder Girl Yubin carved out a fun little niche for herself in 2018 with the retro releases Lady and Thank U Soooo Much. I hoped that she would continue down this road, but 2019 saw a return to more subdued fare with mid-tempo (and Yoon Mirae duet) Silent Movie. Now, she’s back with yet another iteration. Yaya (Me Time) (넵넵) pulls her sound in more of a hip-hop direction, forgoing pop melody for a track that thrives on attitude and groove.
This isn’t necessarily surprising. After all, Yubin’s position in Wonder Girls was as a rapper. Her previous solo releases defied expectations, but Yaya falls more in line with what I’d imagine a Yubin track would sound like. Still, I think this particular style could have spawned a stronger song. Yubin has charisma to spare, and has no trouble compelling attention for three minutes straight. But, Yaya never transforms into something all that memorable. Its chill hip-hop beat bops along nicely, though I much prefer its jazzier — almost bossa nova — percussion to the tired trap beats that end up supporting the chorus.
Yaya’s verses are pretty hit and miss. I’m not a fan of the vocal effects or flow on the first verse, but the second adds a jolt of sing-song melody that proves more engaging. The chorus is fun but throwaway, which kind of feels like what it’s aiming for. The post-chorus is actually catchier, and could have been expanded upon further. Overall, Yaya is a pleasant head-nodder, but it’s hard not to feel a little ambivalent about its limited ambitions.
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