It would be an understatement to say that 1TEAM’s music hasn’t been for me. I’ve been pretty hard on them so far, mainly because the bulk of their sound has hinged upon the kind of swaggy trap-rap I detest. But, last November’s Make This proved to be a grower, and teased unforeseen potential. Like many K-pop tracks this year, new single Ullaeli Kkollaeli (얼레리꼴레리) has a mouthful of a title. And thankfully, its guitar-driven sound pushes the group in yet another direction.
Ullaeli Kkollaeli repaints 1TEAM as successors to Block B’s freewheeling style. It’s a welcome diversion, and matches the group’s energy well. Right from the start, the track is driven by punchy, punky guitar that provides a great base for the hip-hop verses. I love the guys’ brash flow, which embraces Ullaeli Kkollaeli’s production rather than attempt to bend it in trendier directions. The same could be said about the chorus. While not particularly melodic, the refrain is noisy and rousing in the best way. It offers a refreshing jolt of rookie spirit. I think 1TEAM’s burgeoning discography needed this injection of passion.
However, Ullaeli Kkollaeli is held back by its excessive use of vocal effects. I’m not against the occasional, purposeful deployment of autotune. But, nearly every moment of this song is slathered in the effect. Stacked against the rawness of the instrumental, it makes for a jarring contrast that rarely works. This is a shame, because it’s easy to hear the song that Ullaeli Kkollaeli might have been if delivered in a more organic fashion. The constant vocal warping isn’t enough to totally upend the track’s appeal, but it does prevent it from being a real summer standout.
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