For me, February has been a dull, slow month in K-pop. But, Rocket Punch’s Chiquita hung in the distance, promising a retro punch of pop energy to take us into March. My anticipation for the song was unexpected (I’ve never really loved the group’s music), but an ear-catching teaser ignited interest. K-pop acts don’t often spoil their entire chorus two weeks before comeback day. That approach requires a certain level of confidence in the material. With Chiquita, that confidence is warranted.
So many idol tracks have struggled to harness pop music’s current retro trend in a satisfying way. We either get copy-and-paste retreads or a more subdued, ‘one foot in, one foot out’ city pop style. Chiquita treats its bright synths as an asset, proudly placing them front and center. This elevates the track’s weaker moments. Even when overused Kpop-isms threaten to pull the verses back to generic territory, the instrumental maintains a sense of focus. Chiquita isn’t trying to move in a million directions at once. It’s focused on being really good at one thing.
Speaking of good things, the song’s highlight is its big, effusive chorus. Woollim were smart to lead the album campaign with this hook. The synth riff intensifies, the vocals smooth out for a more sophisticated delivery and the melody slides into home base with a confident ease. It feels like a proper centerpiece – a quality harder to find in K-pop over the past few years. Comparisons to second generation groups like Kara will be inevitable. If Rocket Punch go on to craft a singles run half as strong as their forerunners, I’ll be a happy fan. Chiquita is a great step in that direction.