Whatever I may think about (G)I-DLE’s music, I can always appreciate their ambition. They commit to their concepts, and leader Soyeon’s composition skills ensure that their title tracks feel consistently them regardless of the genre. Unfortunately, more often than not their songs just don’t connect with me. Oftentimes, I find their work to be heavy on style and light on songwriting substance. New single HWAA (화(火花)) does little to convince me otherwise, but it’s stronger than both of their 2020 offerings.
Like 2019’s Hann, HWAA thrives on its sense of atmosphere. The instrumental pulls in plenty of texture, from the wisp of woodwinds to the soft thud of percussion. It’s a dynamic blend, and instantly forges a sense of cinematic grandeur. K-pop has always been heavily image-based, and you can practically see this song. This culminates in a gorgeous (and much too short) instrumental coda that ends the track on a high. HWAA could have been extended by at least thirty seconds and been all the stronger for it.
But while the song succeeds on its instrumental, the core melodies leave something to be desired. The incantation-like hook that anchors HWAA is pretty satisfying, but I’m not sure it feels substantial enough to be the main course. Instead, it comes across like a post-chorus refrain. Likewise, the verses are quite forgettable. A rap breakdown takes the place of the second verse, but it’s incorporated more seamlessly than usual. The first verse sets HWAA’s tone, yet fails to conjure a memorable or impactful melody. In short, HWAA harnesses both the strengths and weaknesses of (G)I-DLE’s sound, and in doing so lands somewhere in the middle of their singles run.