Review

Song Review: Golden Child – Pump It Up

Golden Child have spent the past year exploring a musical trilogy that pulled their sound in darker, angstier directions. This resulted in some stellar songs, but the Golden Child I first fell in love with made their name on a bright, energetic style. Once K-pop boy groups journey down a moodier route, they tend to lodge themselves there. It’s extremely rare to hear a song like Pump It Up at this point in an idol group’s career. But, Woollim Entertainment knows what the fans want, and Golden Child’s debut-era charm makes a convincing return here, buoyed by the guys’ raised profile and newfound experience.

Pump It Up is so catchy that it’s been stuck in my head for days before even hearing the full song. Its teasers proudly unveiled the chorus, and that was enough to make this mega earworm stick. That’s a potential liability, as this kind of “catchy” can easily turn into “novelty” – the stuff of TV jingles. And, Pump It Up veers dangerously close this this territory, especially as it goes on. It’s quite repetitive and single-minded.

But, this is where Golden Child prove themselves invaluable. When it comes to a song like this, you’ve gotta sell it. The energy needs to feel believable, not some forced move from an uncaring agency. This is where Golden Child have always excelled. Bright concepts rarely get the credit they deserve when it comes to just how difficult they can be to pull off. These guys are such endearing goofballs that Pump It Up – as silly as it is – feels totally authentic.

The track embraces old school funk-pop, driven by a rhythmic instrumental that instantly reminded me of The Jackson 5. In a rarity for K-pop, the production makes generous use of vocal samples, incorporating them as part of the song’s unyielding rhythm. This works well, except for the cheesy ad-lib that echoes the first chorus. Even better is Golden Child’s harmonized pre-chorus, which blossoms with a cheerful energy. Pump It Up isn’t much of a vocal showcase, but these moments allow the guys to harness their skilled line-up of diverse tones.

Elsewhere, rappers Tag and Jangjun get the opportunity to ham it up in ways that never distract from the track’s through-line. Even so, the various elements don’t come together to forge the kind of knockout climax that characterized past hits like 2018’s Genie. I kept waiting for one big power note — or at the very least, that dynamic synth that was present in the song’s teasers. But, in a year where music of this style is very hard to find, Pump It Up is a needed burst of joy. Add my inherent Golcha bias into the mix and you’ve got another surefire standout from the group.

 Hooks 9
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 10
 RATING 9.25


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39 thoughts on “Song Review: Golden Child – Pump It Up

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group other than The Boyz go back to bright (and even they flip-flop between bright and dark like mad), but it’s always always always a welcome occasion! I’m sure I’m missing some, though — so let me know if you’re aware of any. Golcha really can sell this style, so I’m happy to see them dipping their toes back into general cheerfulness. Maybe other previously-bright groups will follow suit!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am loving this! In a year where dark concepts have been taking over, this and TOO’s 2nd title track feel refreshing and great in the ears. I love how the song’s full of energy, never losing that from start to finish. And that epic pre chorus, that’s gonna be stuck in my head for a long time!

    What I really like about golden child is how they really have that “it” factor when doing bright concepts. Well, maybe since they’ve been doing it since debut, but still!

    Mospick, even though secret story of the swan is a big disappointment, you still did a good job in this! Kudos to you, bro!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The song is strong and I agree that Goldcha’s performance is even stronger!
    Sometimes I feel like Goldcha leans heavily on Joochan 😉 and Y – for good reason – I felt each member was showcased really nicely even if they didn’t have the most time singing.

    My favorite part is the vocal harmonies in the pre-chorus, the rhythmic switch up’s in Verse 2 (they coud lean into this even more tbh), and their downward point in the first chorus’s choreography

    I enjoyed the whole release and Pump it Up is probably my least favorite track on the release – meaning that I really like the other two songs in BIG way – cuz I am really enjoying Pump it Up…

    Like

    • also I do look forward to both more bright and dark concepts. I felt like their last single trilogy was a level above the usual moody dark concept. It felt elevated, truly moody, truly emotional. I think if “dark” wasn’t so trendy and ubiquitous, it’d be a different converation surrounding those songs.
      I spent a lot of time with those songs and in the future, when I look back on covid19/pandemic life I definitely will remember how much I found some comfort in those three songs in particular. a personal attachment…

      That said I’m really happy that Goldcha is showing us their strongest & most comfortable concept and diversity in musical approach.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Now , you all know I waited for this , right?

    Golden Child is my ult group and for a long time I have waited them to go back to their bright territory!

    Pump It Up is an awesome song! Taking my Top 5 favorite vocal tones in all of kpop and bringing it into a burst of Joy!

    The song is refreshing from the start to the finish , The ad-libs , The harmonization during the pre chorus and that chorus is awesome!

    This song is the limit of cheesiness but Golden Child Sell Cheesiness very well (as seen with DamDaDi and It’s U!)

    But , I actually got emotional during the “Pump It Pump It Up” part. Yes, I got Emotional……….During that part.

    Golden Child was one of my biggest joys , the choruses they sell out , their energy!

    everything is amazing about them and they deliver happiness that most groups can’t.

    So This is a great return to form but a walloping climax would have been good.😀

    Also! I am ready for second Golden Child Imperial Phase! We are setting off

    RATING: 9.25

    Also……………….

    Lean on me should definitely be the buried treasure!

    ……………or are you gonna review both the tracks?

    Overall , The structure of Lean On Me reminds me of The Chaser!

    HEY EVERYBODY HERE THIS STANDOUT IN THE ALBUM!

    MY ULT GROUP SANG IT!

    My happiness levels are off the charts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yan, this is Nick. I will be shocked if he does not review both album tracks.

      I think tomorrow or something I’ll also do an album review…

      Also, when did the first Golcha imperial phase end? Without You and Spring Again were okay, not bad actually, they have been near consistent since debut!

      Like

    • He will DEFINITELY review both. Also let’s all scream in collective happiness about Golcha’s phenomenal return to the bright concept they started with! What a song, what a performance. I love them, and I hope I can be forgiven for neglecting their dark trilogy for a while. ;;

      Like

  5. Your standards are too high this is clearly a 10! The brightness is important after a long day of stress. Golden Child delivers exactly that.

    I like how several groups have started to come back to lighter concepts. (Blackpink, ONF, golcha etc etc)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. At a point of time when I was becoming tired of laid-back and groovy choruses, comes my ult group with a banger of an anthemic chorus!!! As you said, the song was stuck from the moment I first heard it… I was expecting a high note like that in damdadi and let me, but it’s fine. Now can’t wait for the live stages😊😊. Also I hope that you would review all 3 songs because all are awesome!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am very happy for everyone’s sake that this song is as good as we all hoped it would be.

    Yes, this is a solid pop song. It goes well old school nostalgia back to the beginnings of pop/rock music in the late 50’s – early 60’s for the expected typical major key progressions, with a hefty dose of late 60’s Jackson5 in there (ABC, I want you back, Stop the love you save).

    Well done, Golcha!

    The vibe also reminds me of TST “Wake Up” from last year which I played so much that I (metaphorically) wore out the digital track. If you like this one (who doesn’t?!), go throw a couple views at TST too. Share the love! Its all good!
    ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7eS8uGMIgw

    Liked by 1 person

      • I feel like I’m incapable of NOT overlistening to my favorite TST songs. Mind Control (yes, the one that sounds like the Finding Nemo seagulls) has been in the cycle of three weeks of obsessive listening followed by six months of no listening for years now.

        Like

  8. SONG THOUGHTS

    Hearing this I predicted you wouldn’t love it as much as you did Genie- there’s not quite that linear buildup of energy toward the chorus. Pump It Up’s verses feels more like a series of fun, small parts that follow each other up quickly- not a boring moment. The verses are different in both production and melody, which keeps the song from being too repetitive (the chorus already has all the repetition we need). It also makes the verses a little harder to remember though. What/ when is “the cheesy ad-lib that echoes the first chorus”? I don’t think it stood out to me?

    Anyway, for me, Pump It Up is as good as it gets. I love this type of beat- funky, like the Jackson 5 but with a more aggressive beat, the energy turned up to 10. I LOVE the vocal samples in the production.
    I recently realised I have a very big weakness for ‘shout-along’ choruses and this one was stuck in my head from the moment I heard it (seems like I wasn’t the only one haha). I like how they changed up the third chorus a little bit, too. Another one of my favourite parts was the HARMONISATION IN THE PRECHORUS. It reminded me instantly of Damdadi, and it’s so satisfying.

    On bright concepts: I am not picky, I love everything that sounds fun and funky, but Golden Child really brings a certain confidence, creativity and substance to it. Once again I want to mention how much I like their unique voices-it helps bring their own identity to this concept even more.

    Like

    • I took the ‘ad-lib’ to be that low pitched “bum dee da” that closes off the chorus.
      i kinda agree that part feels unnecessary and a little too ‘uptown funk’ for me.
      Really agree about the prechorus harmonies, those are so great. and there’s a bunch of different moments that all rule.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ohh that makes sense. I kindof love that part but I can see how it feels a little out of place, especially with so much focus on it (the rest of the instrumental just drops out)

        Like

    • MV THOUGHTS

      Apologies for commenting twice- but last time I was this excited about a comeback was two years ago!

      I love the MV as much as the song. Smart choice to divide the members and have them all follow a cute little storyline. Their interactions are hilarious and adorable!

      The styling gives me Monsta X Rush meets Astro Crazy Sexy Cool – both concepts I really love. Just the pilot outfits/setting was a little underused in my opinion? They only appear at the very beginning and end, with a few seconds in the middle and have no ‘storyline’ like the other parts do. I guess it was meant to see them together as a group? But we already see that in the dance scenes. I’m not complaining though, seeing my boys in uniform is definitely a plus ><

      The choreography looks phenomenal. It’s a treat to watch- different members getting their moments to stand out in a super creative way. Instead of just rotating to center, they do all sorts of fun stuff. This is not new for Golcha, but I feel like the choreographers really cranked up the creativity even more here. Naturally some of my favourite examples of this are Seungmin’s moments at 0:21 and 2:00 but Jibeom coming through at 1:20 is just as cool.

      Can't wait to see the live stages! ❤

      Like

  9. Hey, ORIGINAL GOLDEN CHILD IS BACK! The album is selling like crazy so hopefully this will encourage other groups to return to their bright concepts too. ASTRO, you’re next.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I JUST REALIZED! GOLDEN CHILD HAVE REACHED 10 SINGLES! GOLDEN CHILD HAVE REACHED 10 SINGLES!

    IN , 2 MONTHS WE ARE GONNA GET A GOLDEN CHILD TOP 10 RANKING!!!

    My dreams are finally coming true!

    Here is a toast for a great 2021 to GOLDEN CHILD!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I adore bright concepts and surprisingly when golcha went dark i didn’t hate it, i actually especially loved One, but hearing them go back to bright is such a welcome surprise!! I am in love with the song and fun mv. At times like this i wonder if The Boyz will ever return to bright concepts…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. haven’t seen anyone else make this comparison but i can hear similarities in melody and song structure to MKTO – Classic. tell me if anyone hears it too haha

    Like

  13. What can I say? I love this song, because I’m a human being with ears and the capacity to experience joy.

    One thing I’ve been wondering about— Nick, were you ever a fan of One Direction? This and some of Golcha’s other bright tracks (especially Let Me) really remind me of their old stuff. I wouldn’t be surprised to find some of the same producers involved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that first paragraph 🙂

      And yes, I was a fan of the music on One Direction’s first three albums… especially when they went all 80’s arena rock with the third one. And, I can definitely hear the similarity when it comes to Golcha’s brighter songs. Golden Child’s discography has been almost exclusively composed by Korean producers, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they took influence from that era of 1D.

      Like

    • I sometimes forget that I have the capacity for the amount of joy that this song gave me haha!

      I think you’re spot on with the 1D comparison! For me too, Let Me reminded me so much of 1Ds earlier songs- I think I even commented about it on this website. I used to be a big fan of them back in the day, you too?

      Like

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