Review

Song Review: Cosmic Girls (WJSN) – Unnatural

WJSN - UnnaturalIt feels like ages since WJSN made a comeback. I’ve missed their music, and consider them one of this generation’s most consistently great girl groups. Apart from a few notable offshoots, the girls have cultivated an identifiable sound and twisted it just enough to remain fresh. New single Unnatural twists that style a bit more noticeably, offering a club-ready sound that sharpens their ammunition but loses some of their unique appeal.

I really should love Unnatural more than I do, but there are a few things keeping me from fully embracing the track. First, I think the key is much too high throughout. The chorus and parts of the pre-chorus — as catchy as they are — come across as strained. That runs counter to the polish of the instrumental, making for a jarring contrast. I’ve always loved WJSN’s vocals, so I think this is more about arrangement than ability. And while Unnatural‘s atmospheric club sound might be a slight shift for the group, I feel like some of its elements have been overdone by boy groups these past few years. The laborious verses are too sluggish for their own good, and I’m not a huge fan of the muted synth that opens the track.

But with those gripes out of the way, there’s plenty to like about Unnatural. It often has a thumping energy that reminds me of the best IZ*ONE singles, and the rhythmic pre-chorus is a real treat. This repeats later during the bridge and again just as Unnatural draws to a close. It’s undoubtedly the song’s knockout moment, especially when the group forges together to transform it into a galvanizing chant. There’s certainly potential here, and I can imagine WJSN turning into queens of nu-disco. But, I think there are some kinks to work out first.

 Hooks 9
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25

33 thoughts on “Song Review: Cosmic Girls (WJSN) – Unnatural

  1. my first comeback as a ujung! really loved this song but it took me a couple tries to get into it. the instrumental is bouncy and fast, and i’m amazed that they handled all the switchbacks for all ten of them as well as they did within the track. i agree that some of them sound quite shrill here – especially yeonjung who was in a perpetually higher key than the rest of the main vocals for the whole mini in general – but i think (like you said) it is a matter of arrangement rather than the girls themselves. i wish they let dawon take the chorus for the whole song instead. also is it weird to think that this song is almost too fast? i wish that the funky pre chorus and the actual chorus were flanked by a better transition into the verses. comments aside, i appreciate that it’s ushering in wjsn into a more polished sonic era that they could probably fine tune for upcoming cbs moving forward.

    on another note, the girls look amazing and the choreo is fun but i hate the editing for this music video with a passion. really gave me a headache the first time i watched it. thankfully the live stage exists so i can thrive there but lord.

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    • the bsides are incredible too btw. such a strong and well done mini – especially loving yalla, new me, and super moon. even the closer rewind is beautifully sung (with my favorite daughter dayoung able to shine in the chorus). you can tell that a lot of time and care was put into the production as a whole.

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  2. I really like the atmospheric quality of the song, esp the pre-chorus. The song reminds me of iz*one.

    Off topic- Nick, SHINee’s coming back!! A repackage is coming, with 3 new songs!!! We predicted it right!!!

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  3. My biggest gripe with the song is how short it is. the chorus could’ve benefitted from a post-chorus like the one in the final chorus. other than that, I mostly love it, I have been waiting for new music from them since Butterfly and they did not disappoint. New Me and YALLA are fantastic.

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  4. The vocal straining bugs me too, however, it’s more that I can feel the strain in the front of my face rather than the contrast with the instrumental.

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  5. What struck me the most is that this is their shortest ever title track, clocking in at exactly 3 minutes. I think for that reason the song never got to groove properly overall that their usually 30+ more seconds could’ve given. Not to mention that it didn’t stick in my mind immediately but I still like it quite a bit and all the line distribution feels even. The mini is solid as well – I don’t love it as immediately as Neverland (my favorite mini since ‘the secret’) but it all stacks up nicely, with New Me being a personal highlight.

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  6. i also noticed that it was like, super high but i wasn’t sure if that was because of the song itself or their voices. (its probably both) i also didn’t really like the editing or the effect on the vocals?? i personally would have preferred a cleaner sound, but its not as if it ruined the song for me or anything. overall i liked it more than i didn’t.

    oh yeah, there’s no mv or new single promoting it so i wouldn’t be expecting a formal review, but have you checked out the new album morning musume released today? pretty good imo

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    • Ooh, I’ll have to check out the Morning Musume album. I haven’t connected with many of the Hello Project singles lately, but these girls usually deliver.

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  7. .
    First of all, I flove the prechorus and its nice short phrased rhythm.

    Enjoyment of this song seems to depend on how much you like have a piercing high D# assaulting your ears. I am glad it is not only me. I bothered to go to a lyric video and it seems like it is 4 or 5 of the members, so its a systemic problem in this song. The vocal coach, the post production, what. Is it only the youtube version or is the streaming version better? It is not any better on the itunes sample.

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  8. I have no problem with the high notes/ strained vocals. I think they sound great especially Soobin in the verse when she loudly pops up there. The way the register is used in this song reminds me of Chungha (actually quite a bit of this song and choreo reminds me of Chungha “Stay Tonight” + Chungha’s single streak of Rollercoaster through Snapping) I remember Bias List commented on the high pitch strains, yet it appeals to me !!

    I also remember that was an issue with Butterfly’s Bias List review. Unnatural has those high register notes but it is a bit more ironed out and better vocally arranged. I still really love Butterfly, it really reminds me of 2000s emo/pop-punk in the melody and lyrics.

    I also don’t find the verses sluggish, particularly Verse 2. I love Exy’s Rap (which is both classic WJSN and particularly fresh & charismatic lol) and then we’re immediately gearing up back into the pre-chorus with Soobin’s high notes.

    I think this is a really great direction for WJSN and I hope it creates some renewed interest for the group. They are a breath of fresh musical air and a group really focused on the craft of k-pop more so than trend-chasing. I do think this instrumental style is more trendy than previously singles been but they serve it deliciously. I was wondering from the teasers if they were going to go in a more R&B/Lofi Hip-hop direction – especially with the solo music Seola has been posting on Instagram- and I think this is a great first foray into a new feel for the group that may increasingly embrace some of today’s trends.

    I wish they had thinned out the chorus just a wee bit …maybe repeated that “rele rele rele rele unnatural” at the end of the chorus a few more times or something. When it’s first uttered with Yeonjung’s chorus drop, the material is a little dense for that hook to register until the section ends. I loved it on the first listen. repeated listens point out the flaws as well as the charms.

    I am pretty thrilled by the whole release, so I’m a very satisfied fan.
    I also love the chic, minimalist art deco concept. A friend and I were commenting on how much we liked the lamps in their teaser photos. There’s a real interior design vibe going on here. Apparently Exy gave a PowerPoint to Starship in order to do this concept. LOL I have a sense WJSN will have a lot of fun doing these promotions and I look forward to them!!!

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    • Yes, I think that my ear is particularly sensitive to higher-frequency sounds, which is also why those trap hi-hat rolls stick out to me in so many songs (and not in a good way).

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  9. Personally, what I think the song needed:
    -Bass guitar on the chorus, it is pretty thin without bassline acting as an anchor. The instrumental in the dance break should have been the hook and the opening of the song instead of using the synth.
    -More bounce in it.
    -I don’t know why but I would have put “Oh, I’m unnatural” as the first chorus and then the “how do I breathe” as the post chorus but with the same instrumentals just the melodies switched.

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  10. Oh, I love this song. I mean, I love IZONE’s sound, so I guess that’s to be expected, and since their disbandment is eminent I’m delighted to hear this coming from a group like WJSN– with a touch less aegyo, which I’m not complaining about.

    Oddly, the melody reminds me of a Kylie Minogue song, or like this old one-hit wonder….

    Anyway, a retro vibe!

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      • I only have bought 2 or 3 WJSN Cosmic girl songs over the years, so when I went back to look at their other songs to remind myself I was genuinely surprised to see that the debuted in early 2016. I think in my mind I conflate WJSN with GWSN and a few other ABCD named girl groups.
        GWSN Girls in the park, yes!
        (and I l follow a lot of kpop, so if I get them confused, it is confusing)

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    • Ha I haven’t heard this song in a loooooong while. I don’t think it was ever a hit in the US, but I remember hearing it pouring out of the UK high street shops whenever I was there, whatever the ZARA of the day was back when.

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      • You may have a point… because my strongest memory of the song is having a camp counselor force me to participate in a dance routine she choreographed to it. And now that I think of it, all of our camp counselors were from Europe for whatever reason.

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  11. I like the song just fine. It would be nice if the vocals were pitched down (my cat definitely agrees on that one). I’m just not sure if I like this song for WJSN. Going through 2019, WJSN were building steam through their space synth pop sort of sound and “special albums” like For The Summer could have had them locked down for a “summer queen” title too. And then came…. nothing? Butterfly was a bit like Unnatural, perfectly decent but also perfectly forgettable buried in a pile of better, similar tracks or just identifiable for a song’s artist. I think this will have more longevity than Butterfly, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if Starship is starting to shift gears into the once a year comeback territory for WJSN. Lord knows it’s exactly what they did for Sistar as well… even the random offshoot subunit feels like a similar move even though the sounds and concepts are different.

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  12. Just coming back here to say- yes I love the songs and promotion – but the key is definitely Unnatural. I saw an interview and they all sung it in a lower key and it was lovely. Then in their encore on the show (congrats WJSN btw), they were singing so strong with no backtrack until the chorus hit…it definitely is in too high a register. While I enjoy the piercing quality of the recording, I like songs that artists are also able to crush live- which typically is no problem for WJSN.

    Just bring it a whole step down or something!!! It would slam even harder.

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  13. The song was fine but it just didn’t feel different to me. It just felt like any other song they produced or just like Izone. It was fine but To be honest don’t get offended this is just my thoughts but I didn’t like the song at all. Other people really enjoyed song though which was nice to hear. But for me especially if you have listened to many kpop songs over the years and until now. For some reason this just felt the same, I didn’t feel anything. But their vocals were straight on that’s what I loved but anything else was just a no for me. They did great though.

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