Review

Song Review: Golden Child – DDARA

Golden Child - DDARA

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!

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.25

29 thoughts on “Song Review: Golden Child – DDARA

  1. So here is a fine example of a mediocre songcraft elevated by a fine performance. (versus E’Last “Dark Dream” from a few days ago which was a fine song poorly produced and performed.) Really, the song when you break it down into its peices, the songcraft is rather workaday as if they took postie notes of ideas only half-though out and slotted them into the expected location on the song chart. But the performers and producers layer on all sorts of goodies so in the end, its okay, or at least okay enough. It slots well into their discography.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. I hear smooth cool 80s Jam and Lewis vibes and I love it. Very SOS band. Also like the sophisticated styling in the video. 9 from me.

    Like

    • As an acolyte of Jam & Lewis (my favorite producers of all time), I’ll say that their version would have had much more fullness to it (and a better melody).

      But then again, because this is a group I adore performing a genre I adore, it’s hard not to be disappointed by anything less than greatness.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think its pretty solid. Unlike you, I think the more muted sound of the production creates a nice atmosphere for what’s supposed to be “cool” sounding track. It definitely feels like spiritual successor to Ra Pam Pam and I find myself having similar opinions with both songs. While both pretty catchy and admittedly songs I’ll probably go to a decent bit, I feel like they lack something to really make them standout tracks.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. It’s alright. Feels like something I’d listen to while studying, or in a coffee shop. On the other hand, Ra Pam Pam is easily my favorite song of 2021 so it’s got some big shoes to fill.

    Like

  5. Granted I’m not a Golden Child stan but it sure has been a really underwhelming year of title tracks for them.

    I agree with the rating but I think out of all the title tracks this is still my favorite. I really didn’t like Burn It or Ram Pam Pam…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The soundscape here is stunning – that alone gets it across the line for me. I also think the DDARA DDA-DDARA hook works well in its subtlety, and I’m actually digging how the instrumental morphs for the dreaded second-verse breakdown.

    Criticisms would be the first verse, which draaaags for an eternity, and the first half of the chorus could be stronger. But overall, one of their most immersive singles (up there with ONE for atmosphere), and a fitting victory lap for a banner year!

    Liked by 3 people

    • How interesting to hear this perspective! We definitely differ here. What you find immersive, I find tedious and murky. I don’t like the synths and percussion BLSSD chooses in most of his tracks (“One” being a big exception). It’s just a musical taste thing. I can appreciate what this approach is aiming for, but I don’t find it all that engaging.

      It’s frustrating that my current favorite group is so often paired with a producer I don’t usually care for. I thought we had a good thing going this year with Score and Megatone. Why, Woollim? Why?!?

      (feel my pain! lol)

      And yeah… overlong first verses are definitely a BLSSD trademark!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s probably just me but I love this song! I think it’s one of their strongest title tracks since, idk, without you. The chorus is a bit too simple for my taste, but I love the production.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Okay, this is super weird. Me, liking a Golden Child song, MORE THAN YOU. What in The Chaser is going on today?!

    Admittedly, I think my reactions to the roll out were the exact opposite of yours.

    1. Oh, it seems its another funky sound Golcha is coming back with. We’ll see how it will be.

    2. Oh, BLSSD wrote it! Awesome!

    3. Ooh, I love the muted synths in the teasers 🙂

    4. Ah, the song is strong!

    Admittedly, this is not as good as the previous three Golcha BLSSD songs, but that is a high bar to cross!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I haven’t been following K-Pop much lately aside from any news really… but I did kind of want to see what Nick thought of the recent Golden Child release and it was pretty much what I expected.

    Golden Child seems to almost always get at the very least an 8. Even when the song is flawed a lot of ways, you seem to always appreciate the performances or production in a way that pushes you over the edge for most of the tracks. Not that DDARA is a terrible song, I actually like it, but you have some more problems with it yet rate it higher than other groups might have if they performed it.

    I’ve been wondering recently, because this is the same situation for me with PIXY. I loved basically all 6 of their discography, but part of me has caught myself listening to songs and then wondering how much more I would enjoy it if PIXY were the ones performing them and sometimes the answer is probably much more to be honest. It’s most likely the emotional attachment but it does get me thinking. PIXY is my Golden Child and that’s definitely very interesting.

    Also DDARA’s good and fits my tastes well. And I did catch myself thinking, I would really love this song if PIXY performed it, but I’m not that attached to Golden Child so the excitements a little muted. Still a good song though

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yep, personal bias is a powerful thing. When you have a soft spot for a group or artist, it’s bound to elevate a rating. And you’re right… if any other group had performed this we’d likely be talking about a score somewhere in the 7’s.

      Way back when I conceived of The Bias List, I knew that I didn’t want to ignore my own bias (because that would be boring and disingenuous). So, I baked it right into the system I use 🙂

      With that said, bias goes both ways. A subpar track from a group you love stings WAY more than a subpar track from a group you don’t really care about. That’s why I feel like I’m nursing a wound today haha

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah… haha that’s what happened to me with LOONA’s PTT. It’s not a terrible track and I can still listen to it to this day but part of me will always be frustrated at the wasted potential of the chorus.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. I absolutely love this comeback. I would even go as far as saying Ddara outshone Ra Pam Pam for me. It sounds was so magnificent. A bit unimpressed by the raps and the music video, but I thoroughly enjoyed the way BLSSD ‘toned down’ the New Jack Swing!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. If there is one producer that could make the perfect new jack swing for the perfect golden child, then it is certainly not BLSSD…
    I’d argue that Score and Megatone’s versions would’ve been much, much better. Their percussion would’ve been explosive and crisp, Golden Child’s vocals would’ve been sounded invigorating…

    Golden Child’s Killing Point are their vocals and a producer like BLSSD doesn’t utilize them properly in my opinion. Yes, there are a few of those oomph moments but by and large, It’s extremely dull. Honestly saying, I wish Woollim would just give Golcha a permanent producer like how they did with INFINITE…This inconsistency is immensely frustrating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’m getting tired of Golcha having a “new sound” each time they make a comeback. It honestly makes the pre-comeback wait very stressful because I’ve got no idea where they’re going.

      And from the sounds of it, even the members weren’t entirely convinced the first time they heard DDARA. I wish a producer would tailor a song to THEM, rather than having Woollim chuck random songs their way.

      Liked by 2 people

    • One thing that could have have gotten this over the edge is a stronger groove. At times, it doesn’t even feel like the percussion is there. Without any kind of groove in a funky song, it could become ‘boring’.

      Like

  12. These producers certainly did something incredible. Taking a naturally fun type of genre and making a boring song out of it is a talent on it’ s own, I am sure.

    I don’ t dislike it that much, I just feel absolutely nothing listening to this. It barely makes me want to dance, I feel no inclination to groove or sing along whatsoever. If cool is what they were going for, they succeeded- this track leaves me cold.

    Let it be known that I still love Golcha and think they perform brilliantly. They’ re just given so little to work with here.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So I stuck this on for a listen, not realizing I had shuffle on, and was really digging what I thought was “DDARA” until I recognized a line about champagne that was stuck in my head not too long ago and realized I was listening to “Fanfare.” Repackage albums disturb my sense of completionism and order in the universe but no one asked me. “Fanfare” is great, though, would playlist again any day.

    “DDARA” sounds like something from ASTRO or THE BOYZ or another of the slightly older but not older enough boy groups I’ve never really gotten into because I like a harder rock or hip-hop edge to my music. They’re probably wearing tuxes in the video – I actually did watch the video a couple of days ago but have forgotten everything about it.

    Is “OASIS” the only other new song? I like it better – it’s got some movement to it. Good enough for the playlist.

    Like

    • Oh, Fanfare… what a title track that would have been! In fact, give me a Korean recording of Bottom Of The Ocean for the August single and Fanfare as the repackage, and I’d have been thrilled. Alas…

      Yes, Oasis is the other new song and I’ll be covering it sometime this week to round out the in-depth album review.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-26znLSb3g”
    I wish this would’ve been DDARA’s beat…does Woollim legit hire producers to make some incredible beat over a concept teaser?

    Like

    • I’m sure BLSSD produced that as well, but it’s like he said: “Nope, this beat is too good. I’ve gotta make it more boring. Let’s take away all the fun parts.”

      It boggles the mind… and honestly I feel betrayed by this teaser.

      Like

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