It’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.