2022 in K-pop has left much to be desired, and one of the things I’ve been missing is a good, goofy comeback from JYP. He’s the gift that keeps on giving, fully in on the joke as he recycles musical elements from his youth in a way his juniors can’t replicate with such authenticity. Over the years, he’s given us synthpop, new jack swing and plenty of smooth r&b. New single Groove Back is more nebulously retro, but still captures JYP in his element.
I think I appreciate Groove Back more as an idea than an actual song. Its beat is exciting right from the start, melding drum machines with plucky synth bass. The production hearkens back to the late 80’s, which just so happens to be one of my favorite eras in pop music. I’m predestined to fall for Groove Back’s approach. When it comes to this sound, my groove never left in the first place!
However, the song’s hooks are a bit too repetitive to soar in the way JYP’s best retro material does. What begins as a fun sense of novelty quickly wears thin, especially when the chorus makes a key change later in the song. Groove Back has one idea and stretches it to a breaking point. The verve of the instrumental keeps things afloat and I’m having a good time even as I’m criticizing the song’s shortcomings. Much of that is due to the goodwill JYP has built up over the years. As usual, he throws himself into the performance, crooning with earnest panache during the verses and fully in control of the hook’s mighty meme potential.