Rocket Punch’s music has kept me at a distance so far. Last year’s Bouncy was an addictive bit of noisy pop, undercut by vocals that occasionally felt strained and uneasy. And though I initially hated the cutesy follow-up Juicy, its sheer ridiculousness (mostly) won me over in the end. Now, the girls have aimed straight for my retro-loving heart, delivering an icy synth-pop track with new single Ring Ring.
As with so many K-pop songs that opt for this style, Ring Ring’s instrumental largely just interpolates the iconic riff from a-ha’s Take On Me. I hope K-pop producers soon recall the other great synth riffs of the eighties. Might I suggest Van Halen’s Jump?
Even so, you can never go wrong with this particular instrumental, even if Ring Ring often feels like a copy of Snuper’s superior Platonic Love. The opening synthline tells us all we need to know. Rocket Punch are going full-on pastiche, and the track is strongest when it sticks to that mission. Unsurprisingly, the moments that take me out of the song are also its most trendy. We certainly didn’t need a trap breakdown in the middle of verse two, and the chirpy ending to each chorus derails the more robust melody that precedes it. But apart from these small missteps, and the occasional strained singing, Ring Ring holds together pretty well.
The track is buoyed by an incredibly strong pre-chorus and a hook that regurgitates just enough retro touchstones to draw upon nostalgia. This makes me question whether I actually enjoy the song or simply enjoy the songs it references. In the end, it probably doesn’t matter. Pop music is most potent in the moment, and Ring Ring delivers a fizzy head rush.