It’s been a long wait between bugAboo’s debut and their first comeback. Their self-titled track came out all the way back in October. Eight months later, we finally have Pop. Strangely, the song is not composed by agency-head Ryan Jhun (even though he composes pretty much every other K-pop track these days!). But, it continues to develop the group’s effervescent sound.
Pop is a tough one. There are things about it I love and things about it I hate. It’s hard to reconcile these within one song, which makes the final product a bit disorienting. To put it simply, the moments where the girls are singing are quite good. The chorus has a welcome fullness, pulsing with great energy and a confident vocal. It feels like an actual centerpiece, not a slowed-down beat drop hook or flimsy chant. Similarly, Pop’s pre-chorus bounds forward with tons of momentum. The song’s dance break is also a winner, followed by a strong vocal bridge.
On the other hand, I hate the “pop! pop!” post-chorus breakdown. I’ve become so exhausted by sound effects in K-pop that even a small sprinkling of them really turns me off a song. This irritating hook also opens Pop, getting the track off to a rough start. A second verse tempo shift does the song no favors, making it feel more fractured than it actually is. Had Pop removed these trendy elements and focused fully on its strengths, we might be talking about a 2022 classic. Instead, the track works in fits and starts. It’s definitely stronger than the baseline girl crush comeback, but it’s clear bugAboo are destined for greater things.