[Review] WINNER experiment a bit on the unbalanced “SOSO”

If you were to peruse any of my unfavorable reviews of the past few years, you’d likely find mentions of song structure, energy, and momentum. For me, these are some the most important building blocks of a good pop song, and this era’s trends so often misuse them. How many times has a non-chorus let down an otherwise strong comeback? How many times has a pesky trap drop waylaid a song’s potential? Whatever that number is, it can be increased by one today, thanks to WINNER’s frustratingly inconsistent “SOSO.”

WINNER’s past two singles have been lighthearted, and quite generic. “Millions” and “Ah Yeah” were both enjoyable, but didn’t have a perspective of their own. With this in mind, I have to give kudos to the aural experimentation of “SOSO.”

It does a lot of things right, but much of that goodwill is upended by a repetitive, monotone hook. If WINNER’s goal was to craft the musical equivalent of apathy, then they certainly met their mark. But it’s hard to figure why you’d expect anybody to want to listen to the musical equivalent of apathy, especially for a pop single. Regardless, I actually like the vocal effect utilized during this buzzkill chorus. It conjures a melancholic, almost mystical, aesthetic rather than settling for swag. If only the instrumental didn’t completely stall here. It plunges into trap-infused, energy-killing murk for what feels like forever, led by one of the most lethargic hooks I’ve heard all year.

This is especially unfortunate given the verses and pre-choruses that sandwich the dead refrain. In addition to building momentum, these segments play with interesting textures. The synth is surprisingly bright for a WINNER track, but it’s augmented by a captivating round of filtered chants that backdrop the standout pre-chorus. I love how the instrumental grows more and more frantic here, stuffing itself until it bursts. This seems to lay the ground for a big, cathartic chorus. That “SOSO” swings so far in the opposite direction may sound interesting on paper. It may even support the song’s lyrical themes. But as a listening experience, its unbalanced nature is nothing short of maddening.

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IATFB says: The easiest thing to do here is to say it was … so-so and leave it at that. But as much as it pains me to say it (MINO 4 LYFE), since 2018 started I don’t think I’ve liked any of their singles and I’ve honestly tried. Overall, their musical direction is understandable but discouraging for me. With their ability that could change completely by their next release, but until then I’ll have to just keep hoping.

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