As hard as I’ve been on most of Lee Jinhyuk and Kim Wooseok’s solo releases, it might seem like I harbor some vendetta against UP10TION. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I even included one of their singles in my “Top 100 K-pop Songs of All-Time.” I think you can still admire an artist, even as you’re convinced their appeal shines brighter within a group.
With that said, Jinhyuk’s 5K is a definite improvement over last year’s obnoxious Bedlam. He’s got Monotree’s Inner Child on production duty, and his performance skirts between rap and vocals rather than relying solely on one or the other. In fact, if it wasn’t for 5K’s repetitive hook, I think this could have been a really fun blast of brassy funk pop. The constant “okay” in the chorus is a clever play on words, given that “5” is pronounced as “oh” in the Korean language. But even if I can appreciate the double-meaning, the exclamation still feels like a placeholder masquerading as a hook.
Elsewhere, 5K thrives on a groovy guitar riff and hand-clapping percussion. It’s not a new sound, but its optimistic drive is always appreciated. The sprinkle of piano during the chorus is an unexpectedly jazzy touch, adding to the instrumental’s sense of buoyancy. The transition from melody to rap also works well, and Jinhyuk lends each approach a sense of swaggering charisma. But, 5K’s chorus is just too irritating to warrant many replays. I guess I’m just not okay with all those “oh-K’s.”