JO1 were borne from the Japanese iteration of the Produce 101 franchise, and like most groups under that umbrella, they’ve dabbled in all sorts of sounds. This has made their discography uneven, though each singles released after their debut has been charming in its own way. However, new track Born To Be Wild harnesses the kind of groove and energy that instantly appeals to me.
Composed by Korean producers Score and Megatone, who crafted Golden Child’s excellent Burn It earlier this year, Born To Be Wild tackles the throwback funky house sound that’s been gaining prominence among boy groups in 2021. The song’s best moments come when it fully embraces its old-school charms, and apart from one tempo-shifting verse in the middle (ie: the structural trend that will never die), Wild maintains its breathless pace.
The song opens with its stickiest hook – a chanted bit of rhythmic punch underlined by house piano. This won’t show up again until later in the track, but its presence is always welcome. From here, Born To Be Wild moves into a sprightly verse, showered by icy drops of synth. The piano makes a return for the exciting pre-chorus before the song drops into a slinkier chorus. But, Wild is overflowing with hooks, and the soaring refrain that punctuates the chorus is a total knockout. It’s a shame that it’s followed by that momentum-killing rap break, but at least the interruption doesn’t last long. Before we know it, that opening chant is back to forge a groovy bridge that ups the energy as we glide toward the climax. Born To Be Wild isn’t absolutely perfect, but it’s about as close as this brand of idol pop gets.