I consider myself very well-versed with the current goings on of the K-pop industry, yet when I kept seeing this name WOODZ come up, I didn’t have a reference point. Then, when his album started selling at impressive numbers, I wondered what I was missing. A quick google search revealed that WOODZ is the current stage name for Cho Seungyoun. Of UNIQ fame. Of Produce X 101 fame. Of X1 fame. Suddenly, the hype made sense. The Produce franchise continues to birth stars with alarming consistency. Even beset by all its scandals, involvement with this franchise is like winning the K-pop lottery.
With that said, Seungyoun has certainly paid his dues. And of all the post-Produce solo artists, he seems best poised to have an idiosyncratic career. After all, he co-writes his own material, including new single Love Me Harder (파랗게). And though his musical preferences don’t seem to mirror mine all that strongly, Harder takes from some of the year’s more promising trends.
More and more, global pop music is moving back to a rhythmic structure, hinging on strong basslines and repeated loops. Love Me Harder largely relies on this approach, pulsing with a whistle-and-bass hook that underlines most of the track. WOODZ has a fresh vocal tone, high and airy in a way that really complements a song like this. If I had my way, Harder would have been streamlined to shine full focus on its groove. There’s a certain amount of empty space within the track that doesn’t contribute much to its overall appeal. It’s satisfying to hear WOODZ riff on the production, but I’d rather have that catchy chorus bumped up a notch with the addition of a truly transcendent secondary refrain. Still, Love Me Harder is a pleasant surprise from an artist I knew little about.
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