On the heels of their excellent Game Changer album, Golden Child are back with a quick repackage. You’ve gotta love Woollim Entertainment’s slavish devotion to traditional K-pop promotions. You’ll always get a repackage, even as other agencies phase out this old tactic. With new single DDARA, the guys make a big U-turn from August’s Latin-inspired Ra Pam Pam. While that song was composed by Stardust (one half of defunct production duo Rphabet), DDARA arrives courtesy of his partner — BLSSD.
I’ve got a love and hate relationship with BLSSD’s work. He’s incredibly talented, but our tastes don’t often align. He seems to prefer a more muted, moody sound. But with DDARA, he tackles New Jack Swing — a genre I’d never consider muted or moody.
New Jack Swing and Golden Child should be a match made in heaven. However, DDARA succumbs to too many of the pitfalls I’d worried about. BLSSD drenches the track in moody synths, dulling the beat when it should be sharp and lively. It’s as if we’re listening to the instrumental underwater. It wants to carry more punch, but never breaks free of its monotonous structure. I’m all for taking older genres and reinventing them with modern sensibilities, but DDARA‘s production just removes the fun. It’s not sleek or addicting enough to be sultry, and not bounding enough to bring the funk. So it ends up existing in a murky middle-ground. Dare I say, it’s even kind of… boring.
As usual, Golden Child’s performance carries DDARA over the line. They sound great, and I love Bomin’s a capella opening. The bridge also casts a few sparks, bringing the energy the rest of the track is sorely lacking. This is accomplished solely through Y and Joochan’s talent as vocalists. I don’t understand the song’s second verse switch-up at all (it feels antithetical to New Jack Swing), but every time the group is harmonizing I’m reminded why I love them so much. They just need to move back to more exciting producers, because I’m not thrilled about this direction at all. At least 2021 will always have the fantastic Burn It!