Many of the ‘Produce 101‘-spawned project groups have thrilled in fits and starts, but the series’ most enduring legacy will likely be NU’EST W (and eventually NU’EST as a whole). Before their stint on season two of ‘Produce 101’, the group was in a precarious position, destined to fade from memory the way so many mid-tier acts do. But after the windfall of survival show exposure, their four-member W unit has become one of K-pop’s biggest success stories. This newfound prosperity will likely continue next year when founding member Minhyun rejoins the group, but for now, NU’EST W has one last gift to give us in the form of dramatic title track “Help Me“.
So far, NU’EST W’s title tracks have been slow burn successes for me. I was initially put off by “Where You At“‘s instrumental hook before coming around to it in a big way, and this summer’s “Dejavu“ had a similar trajectory as it grew more satisfying with each listen. In contrast, “Help Me”‘s theatrical charms are quite instant. The song shares similar DNA to SEVENTEEN’s “Thanks“, with moody synths circling around its ever-shifting tempo. But “Help Me” is a more complete song, culminating in a grandiose chorus that feels like a suitably impactful finale to the group’s sub-unit activities.
“Help Me”‘s intensity is evident from the very first bars. It’s certainly not a dance track, but the instrumental pulses with a constant sense of urgency. Even in its quieter moments (that beautiful pre-chorus), the song sparks pathos. Its verses aren’t very memorable when it comes to melody, but their constant sense of turbulence keeps the listener so off-balance that the lack of hookiness hardly registers. The same could be said about the chorus. I’d prefer a more engaging melody that doesn’t rely so heavily on angsty repetition, but it’s hard to argue with that wall-of-sound instrumental. It’s a pulverizing arrangement, the likes of which NU’EST has never really explored before.
This dynamic production is on full display as “Help Me” thunders to its conclusion. A nearly voiceless refrain takes us out, as if the song’s protagonists are in such a state of desperation that they can barely continue singing. That emotion may have described NU’EST before, but a song like “Help Me” proves that the guys are now firing on all cylinders.