As part of my “Summer of K-pop” feature, I recently wrote about Eric Nam’s 2014 single Ooh Ooh. In doing so, I was reminded how effectively that song harnessed his charms. He has a pleasant pop voice and amiable presence, well-suited to light, funky dance tracks. New single Paradise takes him down a more well-worn tropical route, and ends up feeling too generic for its own good.
Kicking off with catchy, mysterious synth, Paradise quickly jumps into its dancehall groove. I feel like we’ve heard this exact percussive loop countless times over the past few years, and K-pop songs rarely do anything interesting with it. In Paradise’s case, this rhythm ends up driving most of the melody. From verse to chorus, the entire track feels beholden to the lockstep structure of its instrumental, which results in a very one-note energy. It’s kind of the same thing over and over.
Eric Nam offers an appealing vocal, as always, but the song doesn’t really feel tailored to him. You get the sense that Paradise wouldn’t change much with any performer at the helm. More interesting is the cascade of descending synths during the chorus. They sweep in with great texture, adding a spike of interest to a track that otherwise bops along without offense. But overall, Paradise seems a bit toothless. It dutifully follows expectations and nervously pulls from global trends, but has no real personality of its own. In this way, it’s almost the polar opposite of Jessi’s Nunu Nana – also released today. Solid pop melody, but little magnetism.
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