[Review] WANNA ONE’s “I.P.U.” has few surprises, but vocals & energy help it stand out

More and more, it seems as though a simple K-pop comeback is not enough. Instead, groups are beginning to herald entire eras with pre-releases and short films that tease an extended release schedule. Such is the case with Wanna One, whose “I.P.U.” (unfortunate acronym and all) acts as the kick-off “theme” to their upcoming comeback. As such, it could be considered a song for the fans, rather than an officially promoted track. But given how massive Wanna One have become, it’s hard to downplay anything they release.

Thankfully, “I.P.U.” is no drippy ballad. It’s still as generic as can be, but not in a completely tiresome way. Fusing an EDM backdrop with a shot of pure pop melody, the song succeeds as a propulsive ode to the group’s rabid fan base. The track kicks off with a slow build toward a drum-filled pre-chorus. Like Seventeen’s Don’t Wanna Cry last year, the inclusion of live percussion (or at least a studio approximation of it) improves this portion immensely. Interestingly, the first chorus of “I.P.U.” is perched over this same instrumental template, leading to a tired drop that does not bode well for the remainder of the track.

But instead of adhering completely to this overused structure, “I.P.U.” kicks into gear during its second verse. A steadier tempo filters in and gives the track a more fluid pop sheen. Each chorus that follows feels much more galvanizing, as the guys’ soaring vocals are complimented by the high energy instrumental. There are few surprises to be found, which blunts the song’s overall appeal compared to something as dynamic as debut track Energetic. But as a pre-release, “I.P.U.” sets the guys off on the right track.

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