Song Review: ONF – Popping

ONF - Popping2021 has been a banner year for ONF. Not only have they released more material than ever, but the music itself is among their strongest work. Those looking for a spiritual successor to February’s excellent Beautiful Beautiful will find their match in new summer single Popping (여름 쏙). Beautiful set an impossibly high bar, making it difficult for any song to climb out of its shadow. But while Popping doesn’t quite clear that burdensome goal, its bright, infectious energy makes it an easy standout.

As with all of their singles, Popping pairs ONF with genius producer Hwang Hyun. These days, it’s hard to find long-running idol/producer collaborations. ONF and Hwang Hyun have been allowed to grow their sound together, with that symbiotic relationship resulting in a discography that’s both cohesive and daring. If anything, Popping is testament to the importance of a great producer. Taken on their own, each of its melodic pieces are lightweight and potentially throwaway. But, Hyun pulls them together into a kaleidoscope of brilliant energy and colorful instrumentation.

Opening with a catchy, chorused melody, Popping quickly moves into its perky electropop groove. Rhythm guitar chugs along, lending the verse plenty of funk. Each segment is brief and punchy, as the pre-chorus swerves forward to add a sense of weight to the dizzying confection. It’s so satisfying when the pieces of a pop song fit this well together.

Popping opts for a beat drop chorus, as the chirpy synth from verse one returns in full force. But, the track has more to offer than this simple riff. A rousing post-chorus adds edge to the featherlight hook, pounding forward with unexpected bombast. Verse two continues the momentum, as Popping builds to its euphoric, chant-along climax. It’s unabashedly optimistic, and that sentiment is more welcome than ONF and Hwang Hyun probably realize. It’s an absolute joy to get lost in Popping’s buoyant take on the summer season.

 Hooks 9
 Production 10
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 9.25

31 thoughts on “Song Review: ONF – Popping

  1. I could talk about the actual song, but I have a blog for that. Instead, I’ll say that it is quite incredible how ONF have actually created a consistent MV universe (more like two universes, New World had them go to a literal new world), without ever actually sacrificing from the songs.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Well after several weeks of boredom, today we have a trifecta of bright boy summery concept. They are all good, but my personal preference as of right now is
    Ha Sung Woon > The Boyz > ONF
    Ask me again tomorrow, and it may switch around.
    ONF is at bottom as the song seems to skew young, like kids animated movie young.

    On a related note, my man Bae Doo Hoon of Forestella just passed the 1st round of Masked Singer yesterday, and next week he will be up against … wait for it … BTOB’s Minhyuk. Aw man, tough match-up. Its going to bethisclosetojudge and probably come down to song choice.

    But what I am really excited for is Ten’s “Paint Me Naked” coming out tomorrow. Yes please.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. I have said this once and I’ll say it again: I love ONF!

    Popping is an incredible song, encapsulating ONF’s giddy charms in a taut, euphoric package. Fizzy Rhythm Guitar abound! Punctuating Electronic instrumentals! and some delicious hooks and melodies! It’s all produced and performed to perfection.

    I’ll give this one a solid 9! Oh how I love this partnership of Hwang Hyun and ONF!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Out of all the songs released today (god there was a lot) I think this is my favourite. I ended up preferring Ugly Dance over Beautiful in the end but I appreciate the consistency of upbeat songs that they have produced this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I do think I have to get used to some of the high pitched chants, but it’s a great song. I love the production on a lot of it and most of the melodies are really catchy and fun, though some of it can skew a bit high. Reminds me of the energy of Complete even though they don’t really sound that alike.


  6. this song is so goddamn catchy, and so good!!! i think ONF are becoming one of my favorite boy groups, and i even think they’re better than Oh My Girl! so yeah, popping soty.


  7. I’m struggling with the English intro/outro- I might have to put this on the back burner for a bit and come back to it later. I’m grumpy about all the English popping up in kpop recently, even though I suppose it was inevitable given the success of “Dynamite” and “Butter”.

    “Dry Ice” is a real WTF of a b-side though – I really can’t decide what to do with it. It’s probably a mess, but maybe a beautiful mess?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmm… Dry Ice doesn’t quite work for me. I enjoy parts of it, and I admire the sheer chutzpah of the song. But the transitions are so jarring and that EDM drop feels formless and unmemorable.

      It’s a shame, because this is like my perfect combination of 2021 composers. Hwang Hyun and Score/Megatone in one track? Should’ve been legendary.


      • That’s so true about the composers!
        I personally like “Dry Ice”, it was a pleasant surprise (Like that prechorus though? Wow) but man… what if?
        Like Golden Child had “Fanfare” and ONF has “My Genesis” (all songs released this year) composed by Score/Megatone and Hwang Hyun respectively, and those songs alone are awesome!

        Let’s hope we get to see Hwang Hyun and Score/Megatone collaborating again soon. There’s got to be some hidden gem tucked somewhere in the music storage somewhere that will soon to be released!


  8. Discovering ONF last year after Road to Kingdom has been such a good decision, they have such a great discography, and seeing them release more music this year has felt great. They seem to have really made this kind of feel-good, fresh, energetic song their own in particular, and Popping gives me those same vibes as Complete and Beautiful Beautiful too even if it doesn’t quite invoke the same kind of awe I felt when listening to those at first. This is such fun and the way they incorporated the singing lines after the bridge and the high note was great.

    I also think this was yet another very strong mini-album from them – I wasn’t sure what to look forward to from the highlight medley, but I’m liking all these songs with a special shoutout to Summer Poem and the strangely addicting intensity of Dry Ice. I do think City of ONF was a stronger release overall, but I’m satisfied with this album too for now.


    • Summer Poem’s probably my favorite b-side, though I’m mad at that pre-release interview that described it as “new wave.” My hopes were high because new wave would be perfect for ONF. But, this is a different genre entirely.


  9. I feel the same ish about Dry Ice. I would be a very happy fan if ONF never touched reggae again..

    But I love Popping. It might not have anything super new but it’s really nice to see them return a bit to their early brighter songs, without losing depth and maturity they’ve developed. It’s a little simple in a way that makes me think of On/Off. Hwang Hyun & Onf really are a dream team. He always makes songs that beautifully suit them and their unique voices and sensibility and they always do an amazing job performing them. Hyojin & Mk sound amazing


  10. I really liked Beautiful Beautiful, so I enjoyed this a lot as well! The song is just so fun and joyous. This is the kind of stuff I’m looking for when I say I want boy groups to do brighter concepts.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow, I HATE THIS!!!!! Does nobody else feel the same way? I’m today’s villain! Well, that’s okay.

    I think I would have found this a little more digestible and less grating if it wasn’t for the English chant at the beginning/middle. As Myma pointed out, this section in particular makes the song feel like it’s for a younger audience. Like, Disney channel music. And on that note, I’ve just realized precisely what this song reminds me of.




    Admittedly, in my opinion, Bring It All Back by S Club 7 is a great song that I still listen to when I am in the mood for it. But I know that is largely my nostalgia talking. I doubt I’d like it very much if I heard it today, and for the same reason, I don’t like this. If I was eleven years old I would buy this single though. I don’t necessarily want to see ONF become the next S Club 7… I loved the rest of their output this year. Can’t we have another “Ugly Dance”?

    Liked by 3 people

    • I don’t hate it, and I am too old to know who S Club 7 is without your reference. But I don’t love it. Its a stealth drop chorus song. And Popping is one consonant away from Jopping. Because when we jumping and popping, we jopping.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Wow you missed out on a truly iconic era of cringe music. Even if your kids were just a bit younger you’d have gotten to experience that weird era of 90s-early 2000s Disney channel one-hit wonders where they had a bunch of blonde teenagers from Sweden singing subtly Christian pop music and I loved every second of it.

        In any case I agree with your assertion regarding jopping, which I have always thought of as a combination of jumping and popping. Always great to meet like minds.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I love ‘Ugly Dance.’ too but I’m enjoying this release.
      Recently I’ve been enjoying Ajanae’s youtube channel and they recently posted a playlist of “kpop songs that belong on the Disney channel” and so to me…that’s not a negative…

      I do like music that is appropriate for the youth but still universally enjoyable. I also listen to tons of death metal, trap and other ‘adult’ music. But I like all sides of the coins.

      Anyways – you’re allowed to dislike what you dislike OF C but I am down for a little Disney channel charm. ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Definitely my favorite release of the day! (I like Strawberry Gum too though). I’ve never paid consistent attention to any of the current-gen boy groups, but ONF has definitely been catching my attention this year. Their music is just so consistently interesting. I’m excited to listen to the rest of the mini as I liked a lot of their b-sides last time around!


  13. ONF! So musically tight.

    Vocally and arrangement-wise, they’re just such a strong group.
    I too was happily surprised when that melody came at the end of the chorus…I knew it was coming, it’s not very ONF to just repeat one phrase in the chorus 😉

    I do think they might need to switch things up come next release or else I think they will kinda be painting by numbers – but this feels like a victory lap of this very established sound dating back to their debut. At the same time I do really like what they’ve created, so I don’t want a complete switch up – just even further development.

    I love these guys…but …Sometimes Hyojin gives me boyscout energy, iykwim

    Liked by 1 person

  14. As of writing this (it’s the August 10th for me), this would mark a full year ever since I became a fan of ONF. I must say it is quite a journey, both as a growing kpop fan and also one who has taken a lot more interest in the production of songs and the intricate details of it.

    So about “Popping”. We need to talk about “Popping”. So… how is “Popping”?
    It’s really good! I love how the energy never really dies down so both the verses and the chorus are really nice to listen to. And guess what? A key change! We got a key change. I think this is a first for a ONF title track so that was a nice change.

    Now given the various perspectives on this song, mainly on this site, I think the novelty of the super funky and infectious “Beautiful Beautiful” coming out super early in the year when 2020 slowly pumping out brighter songs was still fresh after a moody first half is what makes “Popping” feel less exciting… I think. Which I understand! “Beautiful Beautiful” was THAT song.

    I think we can all reach to a mutual agreement that ONF is one of the most consistent artists we have seen this year, especially given the amount of songs we have gotten from them. And the fact that this is all coming from the collaboration between ONF and Hwang Hyun (since debut)? Wow. Their discography is a shining example of them going adventurous whilst still exploring similar yet interesting music terrains.

    Before I go log off here, I will like to drop a fun fact!
    So, fun fact: Hwang Hyun played the flute which was used in this song.
    Not only can he compose, but he can play instrument(s) too! This man is full of surprises.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Okay finally got time to watch this. My first listen, I wasn’t a fan of the chorus actually. However, the part that some people didn’t like (the childlike chant)- I actually liked.

    (Side note- after reading lore that went with the MV, it made the lines more impactful. But of course not everybody will attempt to piece a part the lore, so we can’t rely on that.)

    By the third listen, I was quite fine with the song. My favorite part was the second verse with the rap section. It changed the song up in a pleasant way.

    I would give it an 8.5. I preferred Ugly Dance compared to this, but this holds its own as a summer track.

    Finally, as for b-sides, the ones that caught my eye were summer poem and Dry ice (which I noticed somebody else in the comments did NOT like. But I quite liked it’s quirky nature 😆👏🏻).

    This mini album does not reach the heights their last album did, but the music is still heading in a direction I like. So, happy to be a fuse 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I agree the chant is childlike, although I can see why some people may not like it. It really reminds me of nursery rhyme (instead of saccharine pop songs that are made for Disney or Nickelodoen).

      Not many songwriters and pop groups can actually pull this off… imho.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I like the nursery rhyme-ish chant. It’s childlike, not childish. This song (the whole EP in fact) has that chill summer vibes.


  17. After being obsessed with Popping for a whole day, I can say that the song is “Don’t Fight the Feeling” if the song was given much better developments…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nick, I want to ask you a question.

      Do you sometimes think either ONF or their producers come to this site and just scroll through and they’re always positive whenever you give them like a good score…or…?

      I don’t know, I just have a slight feeling that’s all lmao


      • I sometimes wonder if anyone involved in the industry follows this site, and then I cringe when I realize some of the things they’d see! Haha I just hope producers like Sweetune and Hwang Hyun know how much they’re loved.

        Liked by 2 people

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