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.
I can appreciate LOONA’s Why Not for what it is, but I understand why it’s not the kind of song that the group’s fans hope to hear from them. For one, it’s largely a sing-talk affair, failing to take advantage of the girls’ vocals in a meaningful way. And, its trendy sound doesn’t exactly fulfill the promise teased during LOONA’s year-long pre-debut roll-out. For these reasons, I think that Voice would have served as a better title track.
Voice is also trendy, but in a different way. It embraces the retro synth sound that’s currently making waves across K-pop, and it does so in a classy, melodic way. Right from the start, Voice unveils a great sense of atmosphere. Its verses deliver a series of ascending melodies, adding tension to a segment that can often feel throwaway in idol tracks. Filtered background chants add a punchy spice to the arrangement without derailing it, and Voice soon builds to a supremely catchy chorus. The track becomes more sprightly in tempo, but the girls’ performance remains somewhat reserved.
This combination of upbeat and sophisticated gives Voice a unique appeal, and would have been a great showcase for the qualities that make LOONA special. Slowed down, Voice could even have passed as a lounge track. I’m thankful it’s not, as the percolating synths go a long way in contributing to its charm. But either way, this is a refreshing departure from the more exuberant girl group sound that’s been so popular throughout 2020.