Some of my favorite Korean dramas are set within the music industry. And, given K-pop’s natural proximity to K-drama, I’m surprised we don’t see more of these crossover projects. The last one I remember was 2018’s Top Management, which spawned the fictional idol group S.O.U.L. That was such a fun series, and Get Myself With You was a bigger jam than it had any right to be.
New series Imitation promises to offer a similar set-up. I haven’t watched the first episode yet, but given its star-studded idol cast (members from ATEEZ, g.o.d, SF9, T-ara and U-KISS!), I’m excited to dive in. Even before its debut, Imitation has proven to be quite meta in its approach. Some of its fictional groups have (or will) promote on Music Bank, alongside the kind of K-pop teasers we’re used to seeing from real idols.
When it comes to fictional idol music, it’s hard to set expectations high. There’s not a huge precedent for it, and most of the existing songs are quite flat. With that in mind, Shax’s MALO is… adequate. It gets the job done, and I’m sure it’ll prove to be an earworm after hearing it a million times throughout the drama. But if an actual group were to promote MALO as a title track, I don’t think it would draw much attention.
I like how the instrumental is driven by guitar, which sustains the energy at a high level. But, I don’t find MALO to be all that catchy. Its chorus feels throwaway, forcing the production to do most of the heavy lifting. It’s like one of those Produce 101 evaluation songs created to illustrate a concept rather than be an engaging piece of music. In other words, it’s generic. And, that’s probably perfect for a project like this.