With each new album, Woodz has leaned harder into rock music. It seems to be a burgeoning trend in K-pop, and he’s uniquely positioned to seize upon it. His gritty, expressive vocal practically begs for equally-passionate guitar riffs, and his natural swagger sells the rock attitude – a vital component to make this genre feel authentic. Last year’s brilliant Chaser unveiled this full potential, and new album Colorful Trauma seeks to build upon that formula.
I Hate You’s punky heart is in the right place, and the song is definitely successful. It’s not the total knockout I hoped for, but I’m happy to see Woodz continue down this route. As usual, his vocal carries the track in compelling fashion, effortlessly skirting between sentimental, ferocious and rhythmic. He drives the chorus home without the need for layering or effects. There’s a rawness to his performance that matches this genre well. And when he moves into a more spitfire delivery during verse two, the transition is natural and exciting.
Comparing I Hate You (난 너 없이 ) to past efforts, I can’t help but wish the melody hinged upon a more memorable series of refrains. The song isn’t as catchy as Bump Bump, nor as focused as Chaser. Granted, those are high bars for any artist to overcome, but when we know Woodz is capable of greatness, a solid track like I Hate You can’t help but feel a bit underwhelming. It thrives upon its explosive energy, but a knockout chorus would have brought it to another level. Still, I stand by the statement I made last week: Woodz is definitely one of the most exciting artists in K-pop at the moment.