Song Review: SF9 – Trauma

SF9 - TraumaI went into this year’s Kingdom: Legendary War familiar with SF9’s music but not attached to the group itself. I’m not sure the competition changed that much, but their interpretation of Taemin’s Move offered a potential inroad that caught my attention. Its sleek, dancefloor-ready sound and stylish image informed parts of their summer comeback Tear Drop, and new single Trauma pushes even further in that direction. However, the song struggles against an ever-increasing sense of predictability.

This is somewhat unrelated, but I was watching Music Bank this weekend (as I always do), and noticed that most the performers and performances seemed so deadly serious. I wonder if agencies will ever stop naming their comebacks things like “Trauma” and “Rumination”? Sometimes it feels like K-pop spends so much time being fierce that it forgets to be fun.

Rant over. Trauma doesn’t suffer from over-seriousness any more than its peers, but I wish the track spent as much time spinning energy as it does maintaining sleek distance. Its rugged bass forms a durable backbone, and I like how it contrasts with the lighter vocal performance. Tropical undertones add extra pulse, but Trauma pulls a familiar trick and drops into a slinky, percussive hook. This is a tried-and-true formula that’s always enjoyable. But with so many groups pursuing it, a song must go the extra mile to stand out. I’m not sure Trauma’s melody quite gets there. It’s well-suited to the moody instrumental, but largely traces the lines of the production rather than offer a dynamic, memorable top-line.

Trauma’s best moment occurs during its bridge. I wish the entire song harnessed this energy. The beat hits harder as synth bass adds the bite that’s missing from the chorus. Hwiyoung’s rap slots perfectly over the top, making a convincing case for a future SF9 track that fully embraces synthwave. Alas, the moment is fleeting and we’re soon swept back into the understated grooves that characterize most of their recent work.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8


13 thoughts on “Song Review: SF9 – Trauma

  1. Feeling just eh on this one, but it’ll fit nice on the groovy playlist. I don’t think it has quite enough energy for a dance playlist though. It’s nice hearing the rappers get a bit more spotlight, but divorced from that excellent “Move” stage, “male version of Venus” just makes me giggle like a thirteen-year-old.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m with you on that last sentence, the english lyrics on Zuho’s rap part (or the english in the song in general) is just awkward… although I quite like this song.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. i started to enjoy the track till de medium to ending part. it felt ike something start to build up but never reall delivered. Im a Fantasy btw


  3. This sounds to me like a cover of a long lost Taemin song, which is
    a) good, and
    b) bad
    But mostly its good. There are some interesting elements and goodies tucked into this song that doesn’t make it a homerun song but its a solid base hit double. The original Taemin if it existed would have had Taemin so that would have been at least a triple, hypothetically speaking of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad that I wasn’t the only one getting Taemin vibes here. Much like “Teardrop,” there’s nothing really wrong here. But whereas that song’s vibe eventually worms its way into my mind with the oooh-oooh-ooohs, this one feels like it’s missing one last element.

      It’s not just a missing high note–as Nick stresses, the most interesting melody isn’t in the chorus. I still like several of their 2020 releases, but their 2021 has been underwhelming.


  4. You moaning old ninnys. This song is smooth and lush as a horse brush. The better kpop gets the harder to please it’s long time fans get.


    • Well of course it’s going to be harder to please people who have been around longer. That’s just how experience works!

      There’s no shortage of online outlets that fawn over every new release, and you’re more than welcome to go there. The Bias List will always be a little more critical. For better or worse, that’s the kind of blog this is.

      Totally stealing “moaning old ninnys,” though. I need to put that on a t-shirt.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I haven’t listened to this yet but I have a feeling I’ll like it 😀 “Feels right”!

    Also a related-unrelated and possibly a rather strange opinion – I am not that enthralled by the Move stage.😅 I loved the dance moment on the steps but personally that was Sf9’s least memorable overall stage for me… I’ve never really felt the urge to go back to it unlike their other stages.

    Seeing everyone praising it definitely makes me a bit worried sometimes but tastes go wild, I guess?😂 My fave stage in that round was undoubtedly Blue Moon 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blue Moon is great, too. Move is weird – I absolutely love the main parts of the song and performance, but the dance break is either slightly eyeroll-inducing or really obnoxious, depending on my mood, and I always turn off the video before the end. That said, it’s the only SF9 stage I can remember other than the one with all the guns, which I disliked when I first saw it because I was in a very touchy place with guns at that point.


  6. I really liked the Move stage, but I thought the ending made it lose a lot of energy. It was too drawn out.

    I like Trauma. It’s kind of slinky and sexy. I almost get a little OnlyOneOf vibe. It’s no Tear Drop – that one really grew on me, but I like it. There are some nice tracks on Rumination. I especially like Memory and Gentleman, I think they have an edge Trauma doesn’t.


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