Most of the time, a k-pop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
ONF’s newest mini album didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. That’s partially my bad for putting expectations on it, but after the group’s buzzy Road to Kingdom cover of It’s Raining, I really wanted them to fully embrace that funky sound. I think they’re perfectly poised to inherit the energy of SHINee’s 2013-era electro-funk. There’s a massive gap in the market for this style, and ONF have the talent to pull it off. Instead, Spin Off is mostly just current boy group trends as heard through ONF’s musical prism. Apart from the excellent New World, it feels like their least ambitious album.
Within this context, Geppeto is the closest to funk that we get. It’s the only new track on the album that’s purely uptempo, though it does meander a bit in its second verse. Rather than harness a bombastic sound, Geppeto’s groove stakes its claim on well-worn deep house influences, augmenting them with plenty of rhythm guitar. ONF’s incredible vocal blend is used generously throughout the track, and gives it a unique character that helps sell its weaker moments.
I find the “you’re my Geppeto, but I’m not Pinocchio… anymore” hook to be quite lame and grating, but it’s preceded by a much stronger chorus that feels light and airy while pushing forward with an edgy drive. Producer Hwang Hyun brings in electric guitar for the track’s climax. It’s a tease that doesn’t go far enough, but it’s proof that all the right ingredients are here. ONF just need to harness them in a less trendy, more aggressive way.
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