It’s a K-pop tale as old as 2016: group forms through (usually controversial) survival show, group sells a boatload of albums in preorders, group releases a song that fans complain about but stream anyway. Of course, there are exceptions, but it feels like these cobbled-together, made-for-TV acts take awhile to find their bearings. The newly-debuted Kep1er includes Yujin of CLC alongside other familiar and notable faces. However, this might as well be a rerun. Wa Da Da is serviceable fun, but it’s clear the group will be following trends rather than creating them.
One of my 2022 K-pop resolutions was a break from the juvenile onomatopoeia hooks that have characterized way too many recent girl group tracks. Wa Da Da steps right into this mess during its chorus, which is easily its weakest point. The beat drop is exciting and energetic, but begs for an equally dynamic melody over the top. Instead, the girls cast off some gibberish. This approach is certainly catchy, but it’s the pop song equivalent of fast food. You’ll be singing (or shouting) along. Yet, the effect is short lived. There’s nothing to grab hold of. Thankfully, a sung post-chorus helps flesh out the arrangement.
Wa Da Da’s lackluster centerpiece is a shame because the song has potential. Verse one opens with a killer stomp, launching Kep1er’s career on solid footing. The swerving synths during the hook deserve more careful, attentive songwriting. I can easily imagine the enthralling chorus that might have spawned from their energy. And apart from a slight break during the second verse, Wa Da Da maintains a crackling energy. If only it didn’t succumb to so many of today’s worst K-pop instincts. But, could we really expect anything different from an MNET-sponsored project like this?