AB6IX’s music has really grown on me since debut, but my impression was initially quite negative thanks to pre-release Hollywood. I mention this because new single Salute hearkens back to many of the elements that I disliked about Hollywood, offering a noisy beat-drop in place of a chorus.
It feels like Salute was designed with its intro and final thirty seconds in mind. Or, maybe the guys just wanted to wear cool uniforms in the music video. Everything else comes across as connective tissue. Nearly all of the melodic elements have a throwaway quality to them. They’re slotted into the right spots, but land with a thud. There are just no real hooks to be found. In between, we get a lot of Woojin (and Daehwi’s!) rap, which is solid but needs a more interesting instrumental to support it. Salute could have been turned into a pretty cool hip-hop track if it had leaned more strongly in that direction.
However, none of Salute’s meager strengths make up for its thudding, unpleasant chorus. I don’t know how you manage to make ceremonial brass and drumlines feel uninspiring, but Salute does it. The production takes all the joy out of this arrangement as the song throws a couple halfhearted refrains over the top so that the whole thing can pass as a hook. None of it is remotely enjoyable or original. Salute’s finale tries to compensate, unleashing thundering drums and chant-along vocals. But, it’s too little, too late. File this alongside VERIVERY’s G.B.T.B as one of 2020’s biggest disappointments from an otherwise strong group.