When a member leaves a K-pop group abruptly, it’s hard to know where they’ll go next. Sometimes the agency shares details about their departure, but more often it’s shrouded in mystery. In Kim Woojin’s case, leaving Stray Kids has opened the door to a solo career. He pre-released the solid Still Dream last month, showcasing his skills as a vocalist and dancer.
I always felt Woojin’s voice was an odd fit for Stray Kids, with material that pushed his tone into a whiny register. He feels much more comfortable in these solo songs, and his performance shines. He’s charismatic enough to carry an entire track, though he needs more idiosyncratic material to truly grasp his place in the crowded K-pop market. Ready Now is enjoyable but lacks impact, and the instrumental is the biggest culprit. It never injects the track with an aural calling card that would make it stand out.
I like Ready Now’s chorus, but the arrangement lacks bite. The melody surges while the instrumental remains stuck in one gear. This results in an odd transition – almost a lack of transition, actually. A wind tunnel of backing vocals offers a sense of lift, but the percussion is way too piddly to emphasize the chorus. This forces Woojin’s voice to do the heavy lifting, and I don’t think the gamble quite pays off. The verses and pre-chorus are stronger, though we’ve heard their tricks a million times before. There are parts of Ready Now that show promise, but as a whole it’s too undercooked.