Oh, how things change. Early in the aughts, Lexy (then signed to YG Entertainment) was the R&B foil to pop diva Hyori (then signed to DSP Entertainment). By now, we know how that story panned out – Hyori went on to become the reigning queen of K-pop, while rival Lexy saw her star fall. Eventually, she split with YG – though on amicable terms – and sought to find her own way.
Lexy’s latest single, titled “NOLZA” (trans. “Let’s Play“) – perhaps a tongue-in-cheek reference to YG hoobaes 2NE1? – featuring the perennially underrated Kim Ji Eun, is Lexy’s latest attempt to regain mainstream relevance in K-pop.
To her credit, she’s cognizant that musical tastes have changed; NOLZA has a great, energetic EDM instrumental (especially in contrast to Jo Kwon‘s overly ambitious, “I’m Da One“), but it quickly becomes clear that Lexy’s attempt to marry her hip-hop/R&B roots with the current “it” trend (EDM) is artificial. Her verses, though at points refreshingly cheeky (“All y’all say the queen is back/Exactly how many queens are there?“), have a hurried rush to them, as if she were struggling to keep time with the beat.
Her attempts at the Rick Ross “hnnng” sounds equally uncomfortable, and, apologetically short in their brevity. It’s a trend that characterizes the song in its entirety – her aggression and swagger is all but muted and muffled by the instrumental itself.
The same cannot be said of Kim Ji Eun’s hook. With each release, she further solidifies her “why is she so underrated” status; she finds herself equally at ease as an EDM featured songstress at 128 bpm as she does on a slow ballad.
The dubstep drop sounds hollow and thin, but then again, this is a fact that plagues pop music universally, so it’s hard to find fault with that.
It’s a catchy slice of trend-humping dance-pop, but it ultimately fails to convince the listener that the combination of two unrelated genres (in this case, hip hop and EDM) isn’t something unnatural.
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