Disclaimer: Due to South Korea’s national period of mourning until November 5th, most companies have delayed all comebacks and promotional materials. For whatever reason, YOUNITE’s music video and album went ahead as planned. It’s not my place to judge whether this decision was correct or not. Who knows what the agency’s situation is? But if they’re going to release something, I’ll write about it.
Nevertheless, my thoughts remain with the victims and the families/friends of victims in Korea.
YOUNITE are currently embroiled in a tale as old as K-pop time: Rookie group debuts with a promising sound, only to upend said sound again and again with each comeback. It’s the “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” approach to music. I was a big fan of the group’s pre-debut Everybody, which seemed to promise a light, funky style. Debut track 1 Of 9 veered into fluffier pop territory but the guys made a major shift with this summer’s Aviator. Now, we’ve gone full on swag-shouting with the noisy, overstuffed Bad Cupid.
Proponents of this scattershot approach would argue that various concepts allow the guys to display various skills and attitudes. But, this is a pop group… not an audition show. As a fan, I’m looking for some stability. I want music that builds upon itself and contributes to a consistent discography. In the case of Bad Cupid, it’s difficult to find consistency even within the song itself.
I fear the team at Brand New Music have been listening to JYP’s “mixx-pop” genre because Bad Cupid is nearly as Frankensteiny as NMIXX’s material. The concept is cool, switching between dark and light. But as with NMIXX, these songs only work if their individual pieces are engaging enough to stand on their own. Bad Cupid throws a ton of bluster our way, often underpinned by gurgling synth distortion. It’s performed well, but there’s nothing to grab onto. Errant melody lines come and go without building to anything, while the (overused) sound of gunshots takes us into a mechanical drop that’s more off-putting than thrilling. Bad Cupid makes a huge tonal shift during its bridge, which sees the guys reverting to the cutesy lightness of their debut. But if I were to take one redeeming feature from the track, it would be the guitar-led second verse and blistering instrumental outro.