Thanks to my daily publication schedule, there’s very little in the K-pop world that passes me by. But every once and awhile, I miss a song that deserves my attention. Soloist Soya hadn’t caught my ear yet this year, releasing a pair of uninspired tropical tracks over the spring and summer. But, I really shouldn’t have let my disinterest steer me away from future material, because “Artist” is a bonafide, e.one-produced disco-pop stomper in the best way possible.
There’s a moment in the track, right after the first chorus, that completely sold me. An extended electric guitar solo kicks in, joining the dance beat with unabashed jubilation. A song this secure in its own over-the-top 80’s glory instantly earns my respect. However, that one instrumental touch isn’t “Artist”‘s only highlight. Its chugging tempo, coupled with the chorus’ shimmers of synth, conjures a soaring sensation — as if the entire track has been sucked through a wind tunnel. The song takes flight in a way that so few have this year.
Through it all, Soya’s confident performance cements “Artist”‘s aspirations. K-pop’s current trends (moody hip-hop for guys, cutesy quirk-pop for girls), rarely allow for belt-it-out choruses like the one we find here. Soya maneuvers her way through a challenging arrangement, unleashing power note after power note for “Artist”’s gargantuan hook. The song comes off more as a love letter to retro sentiments than an inventive updating, but its gutsy energy is enough to captivate. She should never return to boring tropical pop again.