Park Jihoon’s Gallery was one of my favorite K-pop tracks this summer, and seemed to carve a new, nimble avenue for his sound. I’ve often enjoyed his singles, but his discography as a whole suffers from a lack of consistency. That’s especially apparent with new comeback Serious, which alternates between messy and dull.
Forgive the hyperbole, but October has me wondering if there’s anyone left in K-pop who can craft a decent melody. So many tracks boast strong production but forget to offer an equally compelling song over their bombastic instrumentals. Serious’s chorus is one of the month’s worst offenders, repeating the same word (and note) in an unengaging loop. I mean, if this is all it takes to craft a comeback track these days, I could throw one together myself! It just feels so unimaginative, especially when you consider the real songwriting firepower supporting this track. I can’t believe they couldn’t come up with something stronger.
This is a shame, because Serious’s opening verse seems to promise a sleek, slinky dance track. We’ve heard similar arrangements many times before, but the sound feels well-suited to Jihoon. However, the song tries to be too many things at once. Its second verse succumbs to breakdowns and energy shifts that make it hard for Serious to gain any traction. K-pop loves a breakdown, but I firmly believe these are best positioned during the bridge or even later. Tracks need time to assert their appeal before pulling the rug from under the listener. Serious hasn’t earned the ability to play fast and loose with structure because it never establishes a clear identity from the beginning.