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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Basic kpop boy band song, not without trying very hard to throw lots of figurative bells and whistles in it.
It does precisely one interesting thing for me which is that crazy electronic breakdown starting at about 2:53, which is all SM-like circa early 2010’s. Super Junior-M “Breakdown” used this kind of thing (plus motorcycle rev sounds) in 2013. Or the SuJu-M “Swing” break. There is probably an EXO example or three too.
Nick we jnxed it
Haha I wouldn’t go that far. It’s not like I had all my hopes pinned on an ENOi track, after all…
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After a listen it really remind of Bloom. The thing is, Bloom was a straightforward, easy-listen. Unlike Bloom this track makes me feel like I’m listening to a Spotify commercial. When I listen hard enough, I can hear a decent song, but every three seconds they decide to destroy my ears. Most songs I listen to are either so mediocre they’re bad, but this one, is just Bad-Bad.
It’s a bummer that this song felt too generic and messy at the same time, and that are my big pet peeves when it comes to kpop. Despite it grew on me (I had to listen to it many times), I can say that this is one of their most disappointing release yet. I really thought that cheeky was their eureka moment, and decide to follow that style. It has potential to be a really decent song, but its flaws were covering it.
*sigh* lesson learned that I shouldn’t let my hopes high
This is just….. confusing. I see the ambition but it just doesn’t make for an easy listening, and I love experimental kpop music. If they wanted a random breakdown that completely shifts focus they could have done it Spectrum style a la Showtime.