Monday, July 9th, 2018

Wanna One – Light

Will this reality show boy band reach escape velocity?


Anna Suiter: The “encore” at any particular K-pop concert is usually pretty predictable, at least once you’ve been to a few of them and know what the pattern is. “Light” being played in the encore, at least in the US, feels expected. This isn’t quite Wanna One’s encore yet, but with about six months left in their promotions, it’s starting to feel like it. Another project group formed from Produce 101 Season 2 has completed their promotional period already, and anxiety is starting to brew for the state of the members’ futures. But in the meantime, the releases continue. Some of Wanna One’s singles have felt like they’ve been banking on their fans buying and streaming them no matter what, just because their time together as a group is so limited; this is the first time it’s felt like one has stood on its own musically. It may not be as catchy as some of their other singles, but it doesn’t matter. Some of the metaphor in the lyrics reads a little strangely (“push right now, turn my button on”), but it’s still a love song in the end. And if it sounds a little needy, maybe that’s part of the point. “Light” conveys a kind of yearning, a kind of insecurity that not even their song with an eight minute drama MV could. It’s in the question “Do you feel the same?” in the refrain. It’s in the earnestness of the instrumental, even if it’s a little more subdued than some of their other songs. Maybe it’s the impending end of Wanna One starting to feel close that makes the angst in this song feel sincere, and the feeling won’t hold up in six months or a year. But were those feelings meant to live outside of this 18-month moment anyways?

Micha Cavaseno: In certain respects, “Light” is a return to the successes of “Energetic,” but where the latter felt a bit too bouncily conservative, the production here has a better sense of dynamics, with it’s switch from gauzy to taut, while maintaining its hyperactive pulse beneath. Wanna One’s benefited from a celebrated competency, but for those not invested in their development, it’s often difficult to hear what makes them special. That said, it’s certainly a sign that there is a restlessness that perhaps we’ll be lucky enough to hear the group explore with time.

Jonathan Bogart: As elegant as possible under the circumstances: construction of some half-dozen musical ideas into one Frankensteined (or Voltronned) hyperbeast, sleek and emotional and entirely opaque without prior investment.

Katherine St Asaph: The arrangement has the sort of bass grumbles that’d get this called “dubstep” if it came out in 2011, alongside Nero. But it’s also got that unfortunate rap verse.

Will Rivitz: If it’s forgettable when it’s buried deep in a Spotify playlist I was auto-subscribed to when I downloaded a free future bass EP that I didn’t even make it through once, it’s forgettable when a boy band does it too.

Jonathan Bradley: The hazy edges on the synths are seductive, and Wanna One allow their voices to slip in and out of focus in complement. The hook has no interest in these soft touches though: a blundering, grasping wail of “Do you feel the same?” tears away at the fixtures like a karaoke performer whose decided to brazen his way through a regrettable pick. An extended version of the chorus makes an appearance during the outro, and only then does the bluster approach any sense of yearning.

Alfred Soto: Steely and poignant — a surprising technical feat. Try dislodging that chorus. 

Ian Mathers: I actually love the way “Light” tricked me the first time I listened to it; what feels like Chekov’s gently pulsing synths in the background there I assumed were going to achieve full bosh by the end, but they never quite do, and that’s somehow even better. That combined with a surprisingly stirring refrain manages to overcome the fact that, like a lot of songs that need to fit in a bunch of single-singer spots in a brief running time, it feels a bit episodic at times.

Reader average: [3.5] (2 votes)

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One Response to “Wanna One – Light”

  1. If anyone here hasn’t given Kangaroo a listen from this EP I really recommend it.