In just over a year after their debut, ITZY’s shadow looms over much of what modern day kpop girl group fare sounds like. This disjointed upbeat pop, made viral early last year by the groups mammoth hit Dalla Dalla, has pretty much come to dominate much of the girl group landscape in the past few months. And while there have been some great examples of this by other girl groups, there’s just something special about an ITZY comeback. With this kind of impact, comes great expectations, and thankfully Wannabe absolutely delivers.
Although I adored both Dalla Dalla and ICY, I would by lying if I were to say that they were instant hits in my ears. Yes I really enjoyed them upon first listen, but what really transformed both those tracks into modern classics was the insane replay-ability they each possessed. Although I can’t comment on Wannabe‘s longevity less than 2 hours after its release, I can confidently say that it’s probably the groups most instant single yet. This is likely due to the track being much more streamlined than the groups last two singles. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an ever-changing hodgepodge of contrasting elements, but this time around the arrangement feels much more cohesive. The eerie music box opening is a red herring, as the track bursts into the classic attitude infused sing-talk verses that ITZY pull off so well. This leads to the intoxicating bass-line that underlies the opening verse, which recalls their debut in the best way possible, but injects just enough unique delivery quirks to make it feel fresh. The inclusion of latin guitar during Yuna’s segment is a wonderful little production quirk that also works to the tracks advantage.
However, Wannabe‘s strongest moment by far is the songs chorus, which unfolds itself over multiple hooks and refrains to create one of the most instantly addicting centrepieces of the year. The instrumental revs up here to absolutely euphoric levels, culminating in an immensely satisfying post chorus refrain in the “just wannabe me”. The breakdown after the chorus, although not the best, is handled in typical ITZY fashion. Generic, but expertly performed. The rest of the track also contains a handful of fun detours, that keep the track interesting, all while cycling back to that megawatt hook whenever it seems as though the song is veering a little too close to the edge. Chief amongst these is the incredible dance break, that skewes the instrumental towards the point of breaking before it explodes during the climactic hook.
But much like the groups last two singles, the vocals are on the higher side of the spectrum, which can cause some of the segments to grate. This may not be a personal issue for me, but I can see it causing problems for other listeners. But as a total package, few tracks this year have come close to the sheer energy that this track exudes, proving that no other group can quite do it like ITZY.
Final Rating: 9.25 / 10
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