Review

Song Review: WayV – Phantom

WayV - PhantomWayV have often released the strongest music within the NCT universe, including standout singles like Turn Back Time, Take Off and Moonwalk. But, we haven’t had a proper WayV comeback in nearly two years. During that time, members have released solos and sub-units alongside their participation in larger NCT projects. New single Phantom picks up where the group left off, though its dramatic flourishes would benefit from a more compelling set of melodies.

In many ways, Phantom is a classic SM boy group track. Its approach feels angular and even militant at times, anchored by a bombastic chorus with layered vocals and theatrical flourishes buttressing the instrumental. You could throw this song on any EXO album without issue. It’s dark and stylish and performed well. However, there are two major elements that prevent me from absolutely loving this.

First off is the beat, which plods along without any real bite. Compare Phantom to EXO’s Mama – a song with similar tempo and energy. Mama’s percussion slams with delicious intensity. Meanwhile, Phantom’s production feels more canned and reigned in. When it comes to mid-tempo production like this, the beat needs real kick to stand out. Similarly, Phantom’s melodies lack that extra bit of intensity. The chorus – simple as it is – improves with further listens. But, the melodies surrounding it (including a ton of muted grumble-talk) don’t amount to much. They’re pleasant enough — just not very memorable or ear-catching. For a long-awaited comeback, I wanted a bit more. Luckily, WayV sell the song’s charms with their always-polished performance. They remain an underutilized gem in SM Entertainment’s roster.

Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8

Grade: B-

16 thoughts on “Song Review: WayV – Phantom

  1. I love the vibe of it. I think the song is fine, but I wish, and I know it sounds weird, but I wish it sounded more overblown and less restrained and posh. But it’s damn easy to listen to, and they sound great. My husband got an “Addams Family” vibe from it, and liked it. I really like the album, too.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I really liked this one! Honestly this is the kind of “dark bg music” I like – a very western style symphonic epic vibe. I was low-key excited from the teaser and this definitely did satisfy my expectations. Dare I saw my fave cb from the NCT team this year. I didn’t expect any NCT group to ever really go for this kinda song – this seems definitely Elast material to me 😂 Their execution was great anyways and they all sounded really good!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. While it isn’t up there with Moonwalk or Turn Back Time for me (I miss the crunchy guitar breakdown), this is pretty good! I would much rather WayV sound like EXO than typical NCT. Also…a 4-minute song?? Everything after the 3 minutes feels like a treat, especially the Kun–>Ten–>Xiaojun high note bridge.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was also very happy to see the length. Seems like kpop (and some western pop) songs are getting shorter and shorter. Lots of tracks this year ended before it felt like they even began!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s completely fine. Sounds better than most “dark” boy group releases. However, the melodies ain’t very memorable, and the song comes across as nothing more than a performance piece instead. I was expecting more, tbh.
    Rating is just about right.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Agree that Phantom is underwhelming. Interesting for this year in BG music but I expected way more. The b-sides on the album were better for me, especially Try my luck, maybe give them a listen!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Is this what happens when you slow down Overdose? The beat is the best part for me – sounds like they’re about to perform a human sacrifice. Anyway, very stylish and menacing, which is always a draw for me. Would I like it as much if I had not seen the gorgeous costuming and aesthetics? Not sure but I’ll take it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I want to love this song, or even like it, but I just can’t. For an SM song, its just not punchy enough or at all. I would expect to hear this from a much smaller agency.

    Like

  8. I like it! The verses are slightly disappointing, but the pre-chorus, chorus, and bridge make up for it. Did anyone else think the vocals sound a little too quiet, though? Especially during the low toned rapping?

    Like

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