MONSTA X find their fun side again on the ridiculously-titled, “Dramarama”

With “Dramarama“, I think MONSTA X have given K-pop its most awesome song title of the year. The word alone is so ridiculously overblown, conjuring a sense of rock opera action movie bombast (or maybe just “jazz hands”), that’s it’s delightfully tongue-in-cheek — except this is K-pop, so of course it’s not actually tongue-in-cheek. My biggest criticism of MONSTA X’s music up to this point has been its self-seriousness. Their sound isn’t particularly light on its feet, and too often it feels like the group’s talents are funneled into a limiting blend of shouting, grumbling and sulking. But you can’t sulk to something called “Dramarama,” right?

From the song’s teasers, I feared the worst. But it turns out the guys have indeed reignited their sense of fun — albeit in doses. “Dramarama” opens with a wonderfully campy layered vocal introduction before launching into its surprisingly funky verses. The rhythmic guitar riff is an instant surprise, injecting a playful groove into the group’s sound. The song briefly slides back into murky territory with its underwhelming pre-chorus, but this is salvaged by a hooky chorus that allows the guys to take a looser approach.

As rumbles of bass give the instrumental a cinematic heft, MONSTA X transform “dramarama” into an effective rhythmic refrain, repeating the word like some otherworldly incantation. It’s a bizarre choice all around, but K-pop lives for the bizarre, and it’s refreshing to hear the guys take this unexpected turn. Even so, “Dramarama” feels slight compared to the group’s most successful tracks. More than anything, it should function as a stepping stone towards a stylistic shift that could boost their already successful sound.

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