A K-pop group’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
LOONA’s true musical merit can most clearly be heard in their b-sides. Apart from taking advantage of already-popular trends, I’m confused by their team’s intentions when choosing title tracks. It’s easy to imagine a completely different 2020-21 singles run for the girls – something like: Number 1 > Voice > WOW.
Each of these three tracks feels more in keeping with LOONA’s pre-debut material, with WOW echoing the explosive energy of their first group release, 2018’s Favorite. The big difference is that WOW injects this sound with one of my favorite retro genres. The song’s percussion and energy draw upon 80’s/90’s new jack swing, though the instrumental feels modern enough to avoid being a simple pastiche. That percussion gives WOW incredible punch, emphasizing bright stabs that punctuate the harmonic hooks placed generously throughout the track. This musical drama gives WOW a jazzy, “let’s put on a show!” vibe that’s hard to resist.
I love the song’s vocal arrangements, along with the effects used on some of the lines. Speaking of WOWs, The girls have definitely been playing in Kylie Minogue’s sandbox, utilizing similar filters to the chorus of that 2007 hit. The hook here isn’t quite as strong, but it’s driven by a throw-down intensity that feels authentic and fresh. Add a sprinkling of keys and strong bursts of brass and you’ve got a real pop workout. The fact they accomplish this much in just under three minutes is a minor miracle of its own!