EP Review — WE

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EP Review — WE

Media by YG Entertainment Inc.

Media by YG Entertainment Inc.

Media by YG Entertainment Inc.

Summer music in Seoul, Korea, was kicked off by four-member boy group Winner with their second EP “WE,” released May 15. Although fairly cookie cutter in totality and a little lacking in quality, there are a few earworms that are definitely worth a listen.

This EP’s biggest issues lie within its production and composition. A few of the tracks are extremely unimaginative because of how washed the sound is, especially in the percussion. “AH YEAH” is comprised of dry and distant high-hats, kicks and snares. All but one song on “WE” is bombastic and loud, which severely limits the group’s ability to write unique songs. Lackluster drum programming plus unoriginality equals repetitive songwriting.

WINNER - ‘AH YEAH (아예)’ M/V

But not everything on “WE” is so bland. There are compositional choices in “ZOO” that are surprisingly left field for mainstream K-Pop. The horns, trilled ad-libs, springy guitar as well as the cumbia beat in the chorus seem to be influenced by Latin rap. While Latin rap is becoming more prevalent in American pop, it is pretty rare in Korean music. A South Korean reaction to such sounds cannot be precisely measured yet, but if they are positive, “ZOO” could be part of a new wave of Latin-Korean fusion, however unlikely that is.

Another choice I found curious was the chorus in “BOOM.” Although the song is relatively pleasant and lowkey to begin with compared to the rest of the EP, the chorus suddenly builds into a EDM slammer that is somewhat off-putting, which I guess is why the track is called “BOOM.” It’s certainly not a horrible song, but I wonder what it would sound like if it wasn’t so explosive.

WINNER - ‘몰라도 너무 몰라’ PERFORMANCE VIDEO

The highest point of this EP is the hard-hitting “MOLA,” which skillfully builds and releases tension at all the right places. All four members contribute something valuable to the general vibe and intensity of this track, but singer and group leader Kang Seung-yoon really grabs your attention in the chorus with quick and repetitive lyrics. The word mola will be repeating in your head long after the song is over, the beat still thumping in you chest. Funny enough, I laughed out loud the first time I listened and heard an almost complete recreation of the drum lead from Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead” right before the second verse. It was unexpected but not too distracting. 

If “MOLA” is the zenith of what this release had to offer, “EVERYDAY (REMIX)” is definitely the nadir. It takes every bad trait of this EP as a whole and puts it into one song, combining to form a boring earache. I’m not a big fan of the original track, even though it’s one of Winner’s biggest hits, but this remix certainly does not improve on the source material. The remixed autotune is particularly awful, causing the singers to sound like Kermit the Frog.

Like many other EPs that will drop in the K-Pop scene this Summer, “WE” adds a lot of white noise that will be quickly forgotten. The good tracks such as “ZOO,” “MOLA” and “BOOM” are catchy, but hard to recall off the top of your head.

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