After a Produce X 101 fueled boost, Victon have steadily released music and built a re-energized fan base. Sadly, I don’t think their A&R team and I have the same taste, because very few of their title tracks have appealed to me. Longtime readers will know what a stickler I am for “signature sounds,” and Victon have done little to convince me that they’re not just another generic K-pop boy group. New single What I Said falls into this same trap, relying on bluster and bombast in place of satisfying hooks.
What I Said is emblematic of so many issues I have with K-pop’s recent boy group releases. Its production is aggressive and in-your-face. Its rap is charismatic and exciting. But, where is the melody? Strip What I Said of its instrumental trappings and there’s just not much of a song left. The refrains are unimaginative and unmemorable, as the track too often relies on grunts and gurgles over sharp hooks. It’s not that composers have forgotten how to write a great melodic line. I just don’t think it’s much of a priority when it comes to songs like this. What I Said is all about attitude and energy, but those elements lose their luster if not tethered to a potent refrain.
On the plus side, there are elements of What I Said’s arrangement that show promise. The off-kilter brass sample imbues the track with a constant sense of tension, which helps the otherwise forgettable verses feel sinister and engrossing. The vocal layering on the “what I said” hook has wonderful texture. It’s just a shame it’s not in service to a more daring chorus. Overall, Victon prove that they can posture and pose with the best of them, but K-pop can be so much more than that.