It seems like almost overnight, K-pop has shifted its attention to retro sounds. This is no surprise, since the industry loves to borrow from global trends. And with songs like The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights become such huge worldwide hits, it was only a matter of time before K-pop decided to jump on board. Now… you all know how I feel about trends in general, but at least I can get behind this one. If the industry would only revive 80’s revisionists Sweetune, we could have an incredible era on our hands.
Speaking of Sweetune, I can clearly imagine how they would have bettered a song like Boyhood’s Retro Love (레트로러브). I mean, they basically wrote it back in 2016!
Boyhood is the stage name for Nam Donghyun, who is debuting as a soloist after finishing in sixtieth place on Produce X 101 last year. Retro Love is a charming little project — clearly a DIY affair. Its synth-heavy beat stays just shy of ripping off A-Ha’s immortal Take On Me, even going so far as to borrow some of the same chord progressions. But, Retro Love is hardly the only song to have done this. It’s practically a rite of passage when it comes to 80’s pastiches.
Donghyun brings a youthful spunk to the track, even if you can clearly predict every melodic turn it will take. Its chorus is repetitive but catchy, supported by that familiar synth line that draws upon nostalgia for maximum effect. We even get a key change during Retro Love’s climax, which is a nice surprise. But, my favorite part of the track is its second verse, where the instrumental pulls back for a percussive, clap-happy moment. It’s good old-fashioned pop fun, irresistible in its silly giddiness. “I retro love you,” indeed.
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