When I cued up Jeong Sewoon’s new single, I was expecting some soft, acoustic ballad. But January continues to surprise with upbeat material, as he’s taken a sudden shift towards EDM. To be clear, Sewoon’s August debut had a lot of rhythm and energy as well, but I’d still consider it to be driven primarily by acoustic guitar. This is a route that fits right within his wheelhouse, but also limits the scope of his artistry. I’m happy that Starship Entertainment is letting him branch out from the very start.
However, incorporating an electronic beat doesn’t automatically make a song great. 2017 gave us plenty of examples of EDM influences that felt shoehorned in. And on the surface, Sewoon’s performance style doesn’t seem to lend itself to dance music. But “Baby It’s U” does a solid job mixing his singer-songwriter vibe with more expansive production.
The song kicks off with a subdued verse, driven by a rising guitar loop and filtered percussion. This restraint turns out to be a red herring, as the pre-chorus transitions to an electronic build that instantly switches things up. What follows is pretty generic for the EDM genre, as Sewoon croons a soaring (but simplistic) refrain over a dance beat that doesn’t hit nearly hard enough. The addition of backing vocals provides an effective echo to the chorus, but there seems to be an ingredient missing. The song’s blend of styles is reminiscent of Akdong Musician’s “Dinosaur“ from last year. It’s just a shame that it never feels quite as idiosyncratic. But even without a memorable musical identity of its own, it’s still much more engaging than some dreary coffee shop ballad.