After a July with few newcomers, the ‘Year Of Debuts’ rolls on with an August release schedule already flush with rookies. Leading the charge is Happyface Entertainment’s D1CE, composed of long-suffering trainees who have all been involved with survival series such as ‘Produce 101,’ ‘MIXNINE,’ and ‘BOYS24.’ This is the new reality for a lot of rookie groups, and helps them establish a fan base before their official debut. But none of this matters unless the guys are given compelling music. “Wake Up” is a solid track, but fails to bring anything new to the table.
“Wake Up” feels like a sound collage of elements borrowed from other groups. The chorus pounds with angsty Monsta X vibes, the pre-chorus echoes the anthemic heft of ATEEZ, and the hip-hop verses come across as GOT7-lite. Of course, K-pop has always self-cannibalized, so none of this is the least bit surprising. The problem is that “Wake Up” doesn’t harness these influences in any interesting way. The guys are clearly talented, and the song does a fine job showing that off, but it’s an oddly lifeless product given its hard-hitting nature.
An injection of compelling melody would have helped things out greatly. As it stands, the chorus of “Wake Up” is an aural hissy fit, shouting phrases without bothering to frame them within a catchy hook. The winding pre-chorus is better, though its structure reminds me of another song that I can’t quite put my finger on. Everything in between is largely forgettable — all bluster with little substance. It’s a shame, because the jazzy instrumental that opens the track has tons of potential.
D1CE have two songs on their debut album written by the Happyface dream team of LEEZ and Ollounder, and I’m shocked that neither of those were selected as the title track. The only explanation is that the powers-that-be wanted D1CE to have an edgy, dark image and didn’t care much about the song that supported it.
IATFB says: Well … at least in two years they can rebrand and let LEEZ and Ollounder dictate their sound and give them a fleshed-out concept. Where might HFE get such an idea? Who knows?