Song Review: ONF – Ugly Dance

ONF - Ugly DanceIt’s difficult to follow a song as excellent and beloved as Beautiful Beautiful, especially when it exists within the same concept and storyline. But, ONF are supported by the necessary firepower. Ugly Dance is again composed by Monotree’s Hwang Hyun, who may as well be the group’s seventh member given the importance of his musical touch.

Ugly Dance (춤춰) switches things up, trading Beautiful’s house pop for funky hip-hop. But despite the difference in genre, the two songs share quite a bit of connective tissue. This is evident from the start, as Ugly Dance opens with a triumphant interpolation of Beautiful’s iconic “rum pum pum” hook. This moment is incredibly cinematic, and works as both its own highlight and a perfect opener to the entire album.

From here, the song wastes no time unveiling its chorus. I was worried this refrain would underwhelm. On its own, the chanted hook isn’t all that exciting. But, the production here is immaculate. Synth strings give this segment a majestic energy, while ONF’s layered vocals add to the sense of grandeur. This is how you spruce up a simple chorus. It’s all about the arrangement.

Ugly Dance’s verses bring a hip-hop touch to the track, but without collapsing into the low-energy aimlessness that plagues so many boy group comebacks. Instead, the percussion is aided by rhythm guitar, offering a playful backdrop for ONF’s vocals. The guys offer a versatile performance, effortlessly slipping between sung melody, chanted climaxes and rap. It’s all a lot of fun, trading the expected “look how badass we are” posturing for a celebratory vibe. Ugly Dance may be eclipsed by the long shadow of its predecessor, but it’s still a bold success in its own right.

 Hooks 9
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9


41 thoughts on “Song Review: ONF – Ugly Dance

  1. Man! I LOVE ONF! My love for them is just off the charts.
    I love the chorus, I love the instrumental and I love the theatricality the song offers. Sure it’s not as good as Beautiful Beautiful, but that’s a tall order.
    At first I was kind of underwhelmed but the song is actually incredible when you play it in Spotify.
    Not gonna lie, the Music video is kind of bland and dulls any greatness the song actually has.

    Rating: 9/10.

    One thing to point out though, My Genesis is a brilliant track and could have easily acted as the title! The electric guitar? Just what I wanted!

    Liked by 5 people

    • All the songs that were added to their repackage have been added onto my playlist. Absolutely amazing. Ugh the guitar in my genesis is to die for. And the transition to softer jazzy tones from the guitar- I love.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I like that track, too. So far their music seems very eccentric to me, with unusual instrumentals and flourishes. I never know what to expect, in the best possible way.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Usually the music videos for ONF are something that I’m very much drawn by, but this one was a little distracting from the actual song. Perhaps it’s a budget thing and they were working with what they had, but either way the song was amazing enough for me to be able to appreciate and I agree, listening to it on Spotify makes the experience so much better!

      Also I think I agree with you about My Genesis, I hope they’d promote it as well because that song deserves to be heard by millions, it’s just so good

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ugly Dance is that rare occasion where I think I wouldn’t have liked it because I don’t like the elements that are in the song, but it comes out perfect and I enjoy it so much? Anyways, My Genesis is really coming for the number 1 B-side of the year. It could’ve also been the title track. The Dreamer is also excellent.

    For something after an mv as great as beautiful beautiful though, it really feels like a normal dance performance video….

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I knew this would be a banger. The shout out to beautiful beautiful at the beginning gave a glimpse to what the song could’ve been.

    The synth strings were such a great ornate touch to the otherwise simple chorus. The refrain was repetitive but very memorable. It’s hard to top a song as great as beautiful beautiful but this is equally outstanding.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Cinematic! Yes! That’s what I felt when it opened and throughout, really. The music has a sort of swelling quality I associate with movies. I love it. It’s so groovy and still full of celebratory energy. Wyatt sounds great, too. They must have blown their whole budget on Beautiful, Beautiful but they do a decent job with the editing to imbue it with energy and the choreography is awesome – that pop up off the floor from their backs – thrilling.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. YES! The repackage was so good. All the songs that were added had such good quality. What I love about their songs is I never know what to expect from their arrangement. It’s always entertaining to speculate how the arrangement will progress throughout the song. My love for ONF only grows with each comeback 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  6. this brought a huge smile to my face this morning. I think this a really nice victory lap after Beautiful, Beautiful.

    I have to say I actually really love this chorus, something about the counting is very musical (like a rock band counting off). the simple repetitive melody is highlighted perfectly by the strings and drums – so while melodically it isn’t soaring, it’s a perfect energetic moment also articulated by their insano choreo.

    Even though the hip hop presence dominates, something about the chorus gives me New World vibes – just the huge, grandeur and the synth sounds.

    I just don’t think there’s a newer group bringing so much musical novelty to the genre right now. It’s a joy to be along for the ride in this chapter of ONF’s career.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ONF is really showing up all other groups and leaving no prisoners. Like listening to ONF makes me a bit disappointed in other groups because come on guys if ONF can do it y’all have no excuses. GIVE US A POWERFUL VOCAL HEAVY CHORUS DAMMIT according to ONF it’s not that hard.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. cinematic is the perfect word to describe their music!! this is so incredibly larger than life, and absolutely stuffed to the gills. Not mentioned in the comments so far is how absolutely resplendent hyojin’s high note in the bridge is? it uplifts and soars & is such a perfect lead up to Wyatt’s rap.

    ( im not musically inclined enough to know which key the high note goes off to, but hyojin did some sorta slide into minor? harmonic?? chromatic? downward descent, and it’s glorious. )

    honestly, when Nick was praising ONF’s complete, i didn’t entirely get the hype because they came back way too infrequently. Now, after the brilliant run of RtK remixes + New World + Beautiful Beautiful + Ugly Dance, I’m fully on the hype train as well woot woot!

    Liked by 4 people

    • If you mean the vocal jump he does at about 2:54-2:55, its a perfect octave. F to F. He does it pretty well.
      The live showcase available right now isn’t actually live, so I have no comment about how much assist was in the recording. From past performance, the expectation is that he could probably also do it well, or well enough, live.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. ONF does not come to play. Loving that grand chorus-really everything about this song is grand and oozes confidence even the more subdued verses. It’s a pretty slick song. Like they’re just casually slinking along, not putting in too much effort but still killing it like this was their a practice recording but it was so good that they kept it for the final. I guess that’s what hip hop is isn’t it-casual and confident but still technically good? I’d agree with the commenter before that I’m not a fan of the rap verses but they don’t kill the song. Wyatt’s voice is just interesting enough to make it work and though I don’t like him as a rapper in isolation, he always makes himself fits in their songs. On the topic of rap, I’m so happy with how vocal heavy this song is, especially that stellar chorus. ONF has such a solid group of vocalists.

    Like other people have said it’s no Beautiful Beautiful but it stands on its own. They do enough of a different style but keep the quality and their signature style consistent that it doesn’t have to be better. It’s like comparing a 10 to a 9.5. I’m happy with both.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My feeling for this song went up and down right from the start. When the “1,2,3 dance” hook with the distorted baby voice? :O
    When they did the beautiful beautiful hook? 🙂
    When the “1,2,3 dance” hook came back? :O
    When it got followed by the stronger 2nd part of the chorus? 🙂
    When the hook came back but this time with the member’s layered vocal? 😀

    It’s just a great song overall as a results

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Ooooh. It’s totally hip hop but trading all the boring stuff with better production, piano, smoother synths, actual melodies, and so much more strings. I am impressed. I didn’t get into Beautiful Beautiful but Ugly Dance is an instant hit.

    Maybe I could do without the baby-sounding hook of “1 and 2 and 3 and”. Maybe a more interesting rap too. But aside from that, yeah it’s amazing.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Fellow Fuses!
    One thing to point out in the music video is that During the 1:59 mark, E-tion mentions the word “Beautiful”, the guys throw around their hands to the air like they did in Beautiful Beautiful’s choreography during the music video (2:34).

    It’s just…so perfect!


  12. I’m so glad they released a repackage, I needed some more ONF. I hope this song also does well. In a way, and this may be due to the music video, it kinda reminded me of EXO’s growl


  13. I am not quite as taken with this as most everyone else. The chorus is immense, buts also very EXO circa 2015 or so. But what gets me about the chorus and the second half of the verses is that it is one note surrounded by heavy synth chords, so it sounds more impressive than it is. G4 G4 G4 G4 G4 G4 and etc. The synth chords modulate around that note like how one learns on the piano to do basic chord progressions after practicing a scale and arpeggio series.

    I get very bored singing along to this. OK sure, Sorry Sorry is also one note chorus, but what elevates it is the rhythmic repetition in the lyrics. Sumi makhyeo makhyeo makhyeo, Naega michyeo michyeo baby.

    I don’t like the baby voice 1 and 2 and 3 and. Maybe its supposed to be contemporary or kitsch or balancing the intenisty of the chorus, but it doesn’t work for me.

    So that leaves the groove which is OK, and the first half hip hop part of the verses and the rap-ish, which are also OK.

    low 8’s at best for me.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Another one note song that is a favorite of our dear Nick is this oldie from Savage Garden “I Want You”. The vocal switches from quadruple time to ordinary time from the verses to the chorus, but the instrumental stays essentially the same, so it manages to shift the vibe without changing momentum. Its really cleverly written.


      Liked by 2 people

      • No joke, this single song was my gateway into becoming a mega-fan of pop music. I can literally divide my life into “before I Want You” and “after I Want You.”

        It’s crazy how intensely music hits during a certain point in your teens…

        Liked by 4 people

    • I also noticed the ‘sounds more impressive than it is’ element there. Doesn’t take away that it still feels impressive – I still love the sound of those strings and layers. 2015 -2016 EXO is still one of my favourite moments in kpop, so if anything sounds like that I tend to like it.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. At this rate, I don’t even think of ONF as a Kpop group. Their music is pretty much art pop or even prog pop!

    My Genesis, my goodness!!! I understand why they chose Ugly Dance as title track because it makes sense. But My Genesis!!!


  15. That mere 1 second at the beginning reminds me so much of Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer, LOLS. Also, is that harp somewhere at 2.22 ?????


  16. ONF is really making huge strides lately. The concepts and music are immaculate! Amazing to see this. They were always ‘the group who did Complete’ in my mind, but that’s definitely changing.

    Liked by 1 person

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