Golden Child had a busy 2021, and 2022 kicks off with their official Japanese debut. When this was first announced, I was both surprised and excited. Their charms feel well-matched to the J-pop market, and with fantastic producer Funk Uchino onboard, the possibilities seemed bright. Then, A Woo‘s teaser premiered and my expectations tempered. Would Golden Child really be releasing their most generic boy group bop as their first foray into Japan?
Well… yes. But, it turns out that generic Golden Child is still pretty satisfying. I enjoy A Woo more than I expected (and probably more than I should). The song takes many of the turns that tend to annoy me, from its droning, sing-talk verses to the annoying wolf howl that punctuates the chorus. Yet, the whole is greater than those problematic parts. At this point, I’m not sure if it’s simply the group’s charm pulling me through. But then again, I didn’t care for DDARA.
Here’s the thing. A Woo doesn’t take advantage of Golden Child’s greatest strengths. It could have been performed by anyone. Their personality doesn’t poke through in any meaningful way. From this standpoint, it’s a rather forgettable and confusing debut. However, it’s also well-constructed and executed. Apart from the gimmicky “a woo’s,” the chorus hits with a brittle funk that’s very successful. And contrary to expectation, I love the blustery post-chorus. The verses may be a little atonal for my taste, but they’re held together by a consistent beat and energy. A Woo actually makes a great pairing with DRIPPIN’s recent Villain. Both are generic but sturdy, and likely to wear well with time.