Watching the competition show LOUD has renewed my interest in P Nation and its artists. The agency is already stacked with major talent, both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes. And the series’ reinterpretations of popular songs have showcased the creativity at the core of P Nation’s ethos. It’s disappointing, then, when their output settles for ideas and structures that feel reductive.
Ping Pong pairs HyunA and Dawn – a real life couple and a whirlwind of explosive charisma. Their energy alone guarantees this song some merit. It’s aptly named, as the duo ping pong off each other for crackling verses that swerve between rap and vocals. Driven by an exciting moombahton beat peppered with splashes of brass, the playful vibe is perfectly in keeping with both performers’ personal style. They don’t land many killer punches, but all their little moments forge together to create a powerful wave of personality.
Unfortunately, Ping Pong is undercut by a lazy beat drop chorus. This squeaky synth and chant-along hook has been done to death, and lacks the bite a song like this deserves. HyunA and Dawn are far more interesting than this chorus lets on. I’ve got nothing against a beat drop, especially when every moment of the verse is building tension toward an inevitable release. But given the title “Ping Pong,” there had to be a way to refashion the sounds of an actual ping pong match into inventive rhythm. Maybe the producers didn’t want to go that literal, but instead we end up with a centerpiece that feels like a placeholder. Thankfully, everything surrounding this vacuum is firing on all cylinders.