Though I don’t often return to it, ENOi’s Cheeky was a nice Seventeen-lite surprise back in January. It pointed toward a funkier concept than the group’s 2019 deep house debut. Those who hoped that ENOi would continue along these lines will likely be disappointed in new single W.A.Y (Where Are You). The song has its moments, but borrows from too many of 2020’s ill-conceived boy group tropes to really take off.
There’s such a thing as too many musical diversions within one track. Even K-pop’s most daring concoctions have held together thanks to some form of structural cohesion. In this regard, W.A.Y is kind of a mess. Whenever it seems to get going, its energy collapses again. This gives the song a lurching sensation that may appeal to some. I’ve never been a fan of the approach.
It will be no surprise to any reader that I prefer W.A.Y’s more intensely-paced moments. When the beat fully drops, the song glides along with a welcome ferocity. However, this never lasts long. At every turn, the percussion is clipped in favor of future bass/EDM/dubstep diversions that only serve to interrupt W.A.Y’s momentum. In order for this to work, a song requires an absolutely killer hook. W.A.Y’s chorus is generic and forgettable, and without that necessary anchor the song constantly gets away from itself. It’s the sensation of having the rug pulled out from under your feet, over and over again. In the right hands, this could be thrilling. In W.A.Y’s case, it’s frustration in the form of a pop song.
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