Release Date: March 19th 2018
- 약속해요 (I.P.U.)
- WE ARE
- 보여 (Day by Day)
- 너의 이름을 (I’ll Remember)
- 약속해요 (I.P.U.) (Propose Ver.)
Total Runtime: 00:24:43
Recommended for: Wanna One stans
NOT recommended for: Those sick of ballads and EDM
Project group Wanna One took the industry by storm in 2017. The eleven members instantly shot to fame after winning big on “Produce 101 Season 2” and subsequently achieved the rookie grand slam. Their schedules are packed with CF filming and variety appearances, and fans are buying hundreds of their albums in hopes of securing a place at their fan-signs. Despite their immense popularity, Wanna One’s music has been largely hit and miss to date. So, is the quality of their newest album proportionate to their popularity?
Track 1 – GOLD
“Gold” was allegedly considered as a title track for the album, and you can tell why. The song is seasonally public-friendly and above all, it’s safe. Whilst I do want to compliment the harmonies, sporadic idiosyncrasies in the rhythm and the exceptional vocal performances of Kim Jaehwan and Ha Sungwoon, “Gold” ultimately falls a little flat. Unfortunately, the risks that the track takes are either far too subtle or are embarrassingly unsuccessful.
The most obvious issue with the song is its lack of impact. “Gold” is so anti-climatic that I initially mistook the chorus for the pre-chorus. And when we do get some kick, it’s executed bizarrely. The change of tempo at the end of the bridge is so abrupt and unfitting that it makes it sound as though some of the group’s most musically-minded members aren’t even singing in time. There’s no time to breathe between the bridge and final chorus, which compromises the chill tone of the song. The track’s lack of consistency and impact paired with mediocre rap performances are unfortunately enough to distract from the excellent vocals. Ultimately, “Gold” feels like an outro song rather than a title-track worthy B-side.
Track 2 – 약속해요 (I.P.U.)
Wanna One’s pre-release “I.P.U.” starts off pleasantly enough. The mellow instrumentation of the first verse serves as a solid backdrop for a simple yet pleasing melody. From there, the slow build transitions into the pre-chorus, the best part of the song thanks to the successful use of percussion and rhythm. However, it all goes downhill from there.
The first mistake that “I.P.U.” makes is slowing down again after building such great momentum. By the time the song builds back up again, it makes you wish that it would just get to the point already. Unfortunately, the woeful EDM drop is not worth the wait. The generic melody squawks at you obnoxiously, until it finishes almost as awkwardly as it started.
I must admit that the second verse is a slight improvement; the melodies are more complex and the instrumentation is in keeping with the EDM hook. The pre-chorus even offers some variation from the previous one, featuring a more melodic rap. The production is clever in this part of the song, as the final word “forever” echoes in the listener’s ears, first their left and then their right. Unfortunately, the momentary quiet is once again broken by a horrific wall of sound, serving as a perfect reminder of why EDM has a bad rep. “I.P.U.” is cheesy and uncomfortable to listen to, and I regret to say that my favourite part of the song is the ending.
Track 3 – BOOMERANG
Yikes. Take this song back to 2016 where it belongs, please. “Boomerang” fails on so many levels that I’m astounded it was ever chosen as the title song. The total lack of imagination in the track is like a slap in the face. It’s every “swag” boy group song you’ve heard in the last four years, but worse.
As soon as Boomerang begins, you know exactly what you’re going to get. The mediocre trap instrumentation tells all, from the barely tolerable talk-rap verses and blandly delivered pre-chorus to the repeat of the god-awful drop. The first verse begins with a poor rap performance from Kang Daniel, but is compensated for by the vocals of Bae Jinyoung and Lee Daehwi. How ironic that two seventeen-year-old boys are the members able to pull off this concept most convincingly. Unfortunately, their performances are overshadowed by the song’s insistence on being flashy. “Boomerang” is majorly overdecorated with unnecessary hype vocals and ad-libs, which not only compromises the vocal performance of the members, but adds to the irritating character of the track.
The heavily remixed vocals in the pre-chorus make me physically wince, and so does the nasally delivery of the line “wing wing wing.” In fact, there’s almost no part of the song that isn’t completely cringe-worthy. “Boomerang” is generic, outdated, and beyond trashy. Unfortunately, the fusion of hip-hop and EDM never leads to anything good in K-Pop.
Track 4 – WE ARE
“We Are” is the album’s token “party” song. The hook is decent, but the line “We are, we are, we are, we are, we are” gets a wee bit repetitive. The performances are also a little lacklustre; the song doesn’t allow for the vocal-line to fully showcase their abilities, and the rap parts aren’t memorable. However, the song gets by due to its catchy hook. This track is one of those rare Wanna One songs in the sense that the song carries the members rather than the members carry the song.
I also want to note that the line distribution is simply atrocious. I get that Wanna One has eleven members, but it feels as though Guanlin barely got a word in. Even main vocal Jaehwan hardly had any lines. Perhaps if the members had been utilised better, “We Are” would’ve been a better track. But next to “Boomerang,” this song seems Grammy-worthy. Whilst the ambiguous lyrics about being cooler than everyone else don’t really make a whole lot of sense, “We Are” is definitely a solid hype song.
Track 5 – 보여 (Day by Day)
“Day by Day” is my favourite track on the album, and that’s simply because it knows what it wants. The song is about not being able to get the one that you like out of your head, and the lyrics are far more concise than other tracks on the album. Furthermore, they let Kang Daniel sing on this track, which is how you know it’s one to add to your playlist. His rap performance is also among his best on the album, although I wish that some of those lines would’ve been distributed to Park Woojin.
In stark contrast with the album’s title-track, the song’s instrumental isn’t overzealous, and all of its elements work in succession. The song’s production is also spot on, with muted vocals recurring in the song, thankfully appropriately and sparingly. Although the arrangement is more or less what you’d expect, I won’t complain because it works. Despite my saying that, the song does throw a few curveballs, such as stripping back towards the end rather than building up — a move that successfully prevents the song from feeling repetitive or tired. “Day by Day” isn’t necessarily ground-breaking, but apparently a decent house-EDM track is the best that we can get from this album.
Track 6 – 너의 이름을 (I’ll Remember)
“I’ll Remember” is a mediocre ballad from beginning to end, but it redeems itself somewhat thanks to the performance of the members. Hwang Minhyun is the standout of this track; it feels as though his smooth vocals were made for ballads. The song is driven by its piano instrumentation, but it’s the occasional use of strings that add a little life to the song, particularly in the bridge. The lyrics are beyond corny, and actually make me want to tell off Wanna One for being too clingy. Overall, the song simply lacks that something special needed to keep a listener engaged.
Track 7 – 약속해요 (I.P.U.) (Propose version)
Phew. The ballad version of “I.P.U.” is exponentially better than the original. However, that’s not necessarily high praise when you take into account just how bad the song was to begin with. The generic chord progression introduced in the first couple bars instantly made me think of a Christmas Carol, but something tells me that’s not quite what they were aiming for. A chime tree was also layered on after the first chorus, as if daring the listener not to take the song seriously. The lyrics were also changed ever so slightly for this version of the song, as if they weren’t corny enough to begin with. Once again, Ha Sungwoon and Kim Jaehwan hard-carry with their vocals, but it’s not enough to save the song. The final track of “I PROMISE YOU” is an appropriate summary of the album; a little over-the-top, oozing with cheese and tackiness.