Song Review: With Woollim – Relay

As Woollim Entertainment’s roster has grown, I’ve longed for more inter-agency collaborations. A holiday song, a special mixed-group unit – something that would showcase all of this ta)lent in one place. It took a global pandemic for that to finally happen, as the agency has unveiled their healing song Relay (이어달리기). The track encompasses over thirty individual idols, bringing together Sungkyu from Infinite, Lovelyz, Golden Child, Rocket Punch and the yet-to-debut Woollim Rookies. That level of participation has the potential for messiness, but the caliber of Woollim’s vocalists ties everything together.

I was always going to love this song. Woollim has been my favorite agency for as long as I can remember, and have been remarkably consistent when it comes to the quality of their releases. Though I would have loved Relay to be a Sweetune track (for nostalgia’s sake, if nothing else), the agency was smart to enlist up-and-coming producers TENTEN, whose work often aims for a similar sound. They juggle Relay’s vast number of voices and personalities well, spreading out the spotlight but retaining a sense of continuity. There really isn’t a weak performance to be found, but on first listen my attention went immediately to Sungkyu during the chorus. This is the first time we’ve heard his voice since his military discharge, and seeing him again, surrounded by his agency juniors, is immensely gratifying for this longtime fan.

Taking the Woollim bias out of the equation, Relay is still a strong pop song – and that’s surprising. Usually, these “family” singles are pretty throwaway. And almost always, pop music associated with disaster relief or global trauma ends up being a well-intentioned — but ultimately boring — ballad. Relay is neither. It’s got a nice synth groove to it, building to a cathartic chorus that draws on a strong, layered vocal arrangement. Like most 2020 K-pop, it succumbs to a needlessly gloomy second verse, but that’s followed by a satisfying build that keeps the good energy chugging until the finale. “Healing” songs are a dime a dozen in K-pop, but Relay is one that gets the job done without falling into too many of the expected tropes. For me, that’s almost more invigorating than the track’s rosy intentions.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 10
 RATING 8.75

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11 thoughts on “Song Review: With Woollim – Relay

  1. Thank you Woolim Entertainment for this good song, I really needed it to end this month well after the Road to Kingdom and Suga fiasco of these past few days. Finally some positive vibes in k-pop !
    I’m not really familiar with Woolim’s roster so I can’t recognize most of the idols in the song but it seems like they did a pretty good job to include most of them. I can hear some nice harmonies making it feel like a real family song. Maybe some of them didn’t sing at all and I’m totally wrong but at least it’s well hidden in the song.

    And I almost had goosebumps after hearing Sungkyu’s voice again, I pray for at least a single from him before the end of the year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a Woollim group fan, I was destined to like this song no matter what. The song itself turned out better than I thought, and line distribution seems pretty good given the large roster. Also not gonna lie, nearly combusted every time Sunggyu sang. Infinite are my favorite group and it’s just so good to hear him again.

    When it released I happened to be awake and scrolling through my twitter feed about current events, which was rather depressing, but listening to this song really made me feel better. A big chunk of it goes to my love for Woollim artists, but I know I’ll be coming back to this song for a while just for the soothing placebo effect during these trying times.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Normally I wouldn’t pay much attention to this type of song, but Nick-sama told me to pay attention to the voices and so I did. What I got was a nice primer on Woollim, instead.

    For one, now I learned who’s the owner of the voice I like from Infinite songs (sue me, but with The Chaser being my point of reference I always thought Sunggyu and Myungsoo’s voices were the same person). And brushing up on my Infinite I realized I may have listened to a LOT of them unadvertently, since I barely know song names but can pinpoint the group in 2 secs, like Bigbang or my ults NCT.

    Second, I realized both Woollim BGs are some of the few groups whose voices I actually pay attention to.

    And third, I freaked out for a second when I saw the 3rd BG whose part was tickling my ears (and I might or might not have repeated some 10 times) but I knew nothing about, jumping to Woollim’s WIkipedia page to realize they’re are some kind of predebut team. I am very interested in hearing more of them now. When are they debuting?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. JAN 20th
    South Korea: Houston, we have a problem named Covid-19

    MAY 31th
    Woollim Entertainment: Don’t worry, we’re all here with you
    Me: Uhm, ok… Maybe a bit too late for the good intentions, but thank you anyway for the chorus.


  5. Crazy to think how Woollim’s roster has transformed to an all-idol one. I remember that Infinite was their first idol artist, and was a big financial risk for the company iirc. Back at Infinite’s debut they still had Nell, Epik High, and a handful of other artists, I think maybe were considered indie?

    Anyways, the song is nice, but it just made me think about how much the company lineup has changed in the past several years.


  6. I love this song but it would be better if infinite ot7 with Hoya sing this song too. Woollim now have many idol but i’m always remember the time when woollim only have infinite and infinite is their first idol in woollim


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