MNET has their multi-national K-pop formula down to a science. Bring together members from various countries and you have natural inroads for promotion in lucrative markets like Japan. Funnel your acts into agency-sponsored events like KCON and you’ve got a built-in venue with thousands of eager listeners. All K-pop is business, but it’s hard not to see groups like Kep1er as particularly market-focused. A song like Wing Wing doesn’t help dissuade that argument.
Wing Wing is Kep1er’s Japanese debut, though it would sound equally at home on Korean charts. It furthers the group’s hyper-energetic, chant-based style. The song is in-your-face and unrelenting. It’s decidedly not for me.
I’ve been spending the past week enjoying CSR’s debut album and remembering how much I love girl group music when it’s built upon robust melodies. In contrast, a song like Wing Wing is driven by catchphrasey sing-talk and enthusiastic onomatopoeias. The percussive instrumental has tons of potential, accented by keys and guitar that give it a dancefloor drive. But, I just can’t connect with the actual song thrown over the top. It feels like every moment is designed to be as blunt-force loud as possible, from the “da da da, doo doo doo” to the stretched out “wiiiiiiiiing” in the chorus.
Look, I appreciate that this sound has connected with so many listeners. It’s clearly popular, and in some rare cases it works for me too. But, it also feels like the most callous form of K-pop commercialization, where empty platitudes (“enjoy your dream!”) and “ah ya ya’s” substitute for musical scope and vision.