When Wonho made his solo debut last September, I had no idea what to expect. But with Open Mind, he set off on a synth-driven sound that fit him like a glove, while capitalized on K-pop’s burgeoning trends. It was released only days before Taemin’s Criminal, and the two songs have always been tied together in my mind. Despite trading synths for guitar, new single Lose feels like it belongs in that same sonic family. And, by leaning into a deeper, darker groove it pushes Wonho’s style in even more dynamic directions.
I feel like I’ve been writing about “groove” all week, but that’s only because K-pop seems to have finally rediscovered it. Despite a languid, moody opener, Lose is a slave to its rhythm as soon as that chugging guitar drops in. Insistent kick gives the track a throbbing pulse, and Lose is wise to build upon that energy as it goes on. The soundscape grows more expansive as strings add additional texture. Then, an extra rhythm guitar riff joins for the final chorus.
I’ve always loved songs that snowball like this. Not only does this structure keep Lose engaging throughout, it also gives it a clear arc to follow. Rather than sputter and rebound and stop again, Lose is working from a specific vision of what it needs to be, and every element helps contribute to that. This single-mindedness is brought to life by Wonho’s expressive performance. To be completely honest, he’s not an artist I had much anticipation for. But he’s delivered fantastic singles twice now. In this case, I’m more than happy to be proven wrong!