Following a mini album of mostly OST ballads, Strange World marks Ha Sungwoon’s first promoted comeback under a new agency. But for those worried about his sound shifting too much, new single Focus should be a comfort. He’s right in his wheelhouse, delivering a bass-driven, Taemin-esque dance track.
This tends to a pretty satisfying K-pop style, but also one that’s been covered over and over by similar acts. It takes something special and unique to set a track like Focus apart. With that in mind, the song’s production and composition are sturdy but I’m not hearing a spark that would have me rushing back for more. Instead, Focus bops along expectedly. Its hooks feel blunted, even as they appeal in the moment. I’m not sure how to explain it beyond saying that Focus comes across as diminished returns.
However, that’s not really fair to Sungwoon. He gives the track his all and delivers a rhythmic performance that echoes the drive of the instrumental. He’s clearly comfortable within this groovy dance sound and commands attention even when the song itself lets him down. A killing point would have made Focus more memorable (and no, that post-chorus instrumental loop doesn’t count). As it stands, he’s already covered similar ground with better results. The fact that I’m spinning my wheels and struggling to find things to write about this track pretty much says it all. As his final comeback before military enlistment, Focus distills the charms of Sungwoon’s music and ties a bow on this era. It’ll be interesting to see what he comes back with in 2024.