Kang Daniel teased his newest mini album last week with pre-release single Waves. Though it was derivative of so many songs within its genre, I appreciated its “all hands on deck” approach. New single Who U Are (깨워) removes the guest features to shine full spotlight on Daniel himself, though most of Waves‘ tropical genre elements remain. This causes Who U Are to feel underwhelming in comparison, despite being the album’s official title track.
From production to melody, Who U Are is subdued – almost to the point of leaving no impression at all. It repeats many of Waves’ instrumental tricks, yet forgets to bring the hooks. Relying on its dancehall groove, the track sees Daniel casting off vaguely melodic lines in rhythm to the beat. If that sounds incredibly boring, it’s because the song is. Rarely do I come away from a K-pop single feeling absolutely nothing, but even buoyed by its percussive drive, Who U Are is a total non-starter.
After several listens, a few charms poke through. Daniel’s vocal offers a cool little rhythmic breakdown during the bridge (right before we move into the requisite trap beats). He really should have leaned harder into this funky approach. He has many appeals as a performer, but his vocal color isn’t unique enough to drive a track this generic. Taken alongside the bargain bin production, Who U Are comes across as musical wallpaper – the means to an end rather than an attempt to craft a compelling song.
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