Despite working in the industry for almost twenty-five (!) years, Shinhwa have never promoted an official sub-unit. That changes with the launch of WDJ. Consisting of members Minwoo, Dongwan and Junjin, WDJ’s debut album offers the first new Shinhwa music since 2018. Alongside Kara and Girls’ Generation, 2022 has been a big year for K-pop’s old guard! I love when an industry honors its legacy, and it’s always nice to see more full-grown adults in K-pop.
Like many male groups who side-stepped the ever-popular shouty hype tracks this year, WDJ have gone groovy. Despite being flush with rhythmic showcases, a quality groove is hard to find in K-pop. Too often, the production feels pulled from some stock toolbox without the natural spontaneity and energy a live band can provide. Flash suffers from this same problem. It’s too lockstep and predictable for its own good. But, this is where the performance comes in. WDJ’s smooth vocals are a perfect match for this mood, wafting over the percussion with a natural ease that helps Flash stand out among a glut of like-minded 2022 tracks.
I also appreciate how Flash doesn’t try to do too much at once. Rather than swerve into beat drops and tempo changes, the track lays out its rhythm and sticks with it. That takes confidence, especially as younger acts throw more and more gimmicks at the market. Flash’s simplicity allows the beat to sink in and ingratiate itself with time. Taken as part of Shinhwa’s discography, the song is a relatively slight effort. But, it understands the mission and utilizes WDJ’s strengths well.