After three quality ‘pre-releases’ in “Oh NaNa“, “Don’t Recall“, and “Rumor“, KARD are finally making their ‘debut’ with “Hola Hola“. Their existing catalog has already given them enough popularity internationally to schedule tours in North America, South America, and Europe, but they haven’t found similar success in Korea yet, mainly because they haven’t tried … until now. It was a concern leading up to “Hola Hola” that it might not represent to Korea why KARD have gotten so popular overseas thus far, but much of that worrying was unnecessary, as they stuck to their formula and were better off for it.
The thing that immediately stands out is all the callbacks included in both the choreography and song for “Hola Hola”, serving as both a clever way to represent their journey to this point and as a treat for fans who’ve followed them here. It’s a nice touch, but man they’re gonna get fatigued performing this over and over.
While these were probably the most subdued verses they’ve had, primarily subsisting on the driving underlying beat, they are also probably my favorite. That choice allowed the members to control the flow and tempo of the song, and they ended up shining, proving that they don’t need to rely on just the instrumental for guidance. Somin continued to set the tone for the track and serve as the main cog, but on “Hola Hola” she served a role more about setting up the rappers. Surprisingly that ended up as a good choice, as BM‘s melodic rapping style continues to fit their music extremely well (even if he’s not actually a good rapper), while J.Seph drops in later with his harsher edge and more rapid delivery to bring a different feel that keeps the listener engaged. Of course, there was the drop for Jiwoo‘s surprise rap verse, which was a pleasant surprise in both the utilization of Jiwoo and the switch of beat a bit so the verses wouldn’t get stagnant due to their bare nature.
So the build to the hook was consistently outstanding, and the bit of an oddball sound of the drop itself was appealing and continued their trend of drops being easy to groove along to. However, it did feel it could’ve been less hollow in the middle (for lack of better term), especially compared to their previous efforts. Thankfully then, those issues are solved at the back-end of the song when the synths are added for further variety, and that closing to the track also includes the explosive but tragically short bridge to top it off.
Of course, despite my personal enjoyment of the group and its songs, the cynic in me is skeptical of their ability to crack the Korean market with the same explosiveness they did the overseas market. Regardless, I’m glad “Hola Hola” gives the Korean public a feel of what has generated excitement overseas, and much like with their actual debut, this ultimately goes down as another success in my book.