A K-pop act’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
ITZY’s Sneakers is the specific kind of ‘dumb’ that somehow becomes ingratiating. It’s certainly no masterpiece, but I find myself playing it more often than any of their singles since Wannabe. The accompanying mini album is equally polarizing. I made a twitter joke about a large portion of the album being sound effects from the girls. I think some people took this as a dig. But, I didn’t necessarily mean it in a bad way. Sound effects can become a vital part of an artist’s schtick. Just ask Missy Elliott!
I mention this because Free Fall is all about its central sound effect. Once I got over the initial giggles of experiencing “wheeee!” for the first time, I realized just how funky it is. To me, the track feels very f(x) in execution, and I’d bet many listeners would have a different reaction if it had come from that group. Free Fall may be a bit weird, but ITZY temper their own energy to offer a more nuanced performance. The sing-talk verses are par for the chorus, but the vocals are well-produced and diverse in texture. Then, we hit that chorus.
Yep, it’s ridiculous. But, listen to how it morphs into a percussive playground. Drums and synth combine for a surprisingly off-kilter arrangement. Rhythm guitar joins the party during chorus two and the vocal becomes more dramatic. A standout bridge blasts us with a powerful blend before the final chorus amps things up again. There’s a welcome sense of movement throughout the entire track. Don’t give up after the first “wheee”! Free Fall rewards a full listen. I can’t get it out of my head.