It took a while to get here, but WINNER is back. Below I share my thoughts about the group’s two new singles, jointly packaged as Fate Number For, and do my best not to bring up that one member that left.
Really Really [3:23]
+ I believe YGE released a statement earlier this year teasing that WINNER would be dabbling in new genres in their upcoming music and I immediately thought to myself: “They’re going to do some Tropical House shit, aren’t they?” And voilà!
Here we are, as expected, with “Really Really”, the first House anthem from WINNER to hit the airwaves. Is it any good? Well, to put it mildly, yes. But it took a couple listens to get there.
The song’s opening seconds sound identical to any Tropical House song you can think of (you will confuse it with K.A.R.D‘s music if you’re not being careful), which nearly drove me to a fit of agony until Seungyoon swept in with the hook to calm my nerves. Now, I know it seems like I despise Tropical House music, but honestly, I don’t. My thing is this: I was hoping WINNER would not have to resort to bandwagon-hopping to salvage their career, but it seems that that’s what they ultimately decided to do. It’s not a big deal, truly, but at the same time, this feels like an attempt (almost a desperate one) to stay on trend rather than setting it. Mind you, this is coming from YG Entertainment, home of BIGBANG and 2NE1, two of the biggest trendsetters to ever exist in the history of K-Pop. By comparison, “Really Really” doesn’t come close to being groundbreaking like some of the material released from those groups.
Having said that, I actually really like this. Jinwoo, bless his heart, clearly got his shit together after Taehyun left and booked a vocal coach because he shines all over this record. Up through the 1:15 mark, he is really the main focus. Jinwoo’s higher tone suits this song nicely, especially when he explores the top end of his chest voice throughout the chorus. In fact, I think he does a better job of it than Seungyoon when he tackles it the second time around (2:13 – 2:30).
Where “Really Really” takes off for me, though, is during Mino and Seunghoon‘s rap verse up until the end of the song. These two might be one of the strongest rap duos in a K-Pop group, at least in terms of having a balanced and unified sound. Their tones tackle different frequencies and both members have a silky smooth delivery that makes their section easy to enjoy. Even better is that here it seems they are having a complete field day. Because as we all know, upbeat music comes once in a full moon for these guys.
+ But what is a WINNER comeback without a ballad, am I right. That is where “Fool” comes in. If you know me, then by now you know I’m a sucker for a good ballad, and man is this one a keeper.
What I think “Fool” does well is downplaying the hip-hop elements that the group’s rappers bring to the table without losing them completely in the haze of a ballad. Mino’s first verse at the beginning of “Fool” is one of the most captivating moments in the song, and that’s thanks to those thoughtful stylistic choices.
Considering that Seungyoon wrote this, I’m not surprised that he’s the best part of the song. He lets his singing carry the weight of “Fool”, emotions and everything, and the end result is a clean and cohesive ballad that manages not to fall into the pits of boredom.
In Short: By the good graces of the K-Pop gods, we finally have new WINNER material to soak in and hang on to until they decide to drop more. Both “Really Really” and “Fool” bring WINNER back to a cleaner, crisper, and smoother sound that they excel in best. They prove they can play with the cool kids while maintaining a strong hold on their suave identity as a ballad unit.
Genre: Ballad, Dance | Release Date: 4/4/17
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