[Review] 1THE9’s “Spotlight” tries to make ‘merry go round’ swaggy, basically

When it comes to groups spawned by survival shows, it’s hard to predict what genre their music will take. More often than not, these projects simply cycle through whatever trends may be hot at the moment, with little regard towards building a cohesive discography. 1THE9 have already tackled downbeat r&b with the Crush-penned “Domino, and now “Spotlight” sees them challenging Latin pop.

Think of “Spotlight” as the kiddie-version of NCT 127’s “Regular, and you’ve got the basic idea of how the track sounds. It borrows from the same blend of hip-hop and brass, and is equally fixated on developing a faux sense of swag. To be fair to the guys, it’s awfully difficult to sound badass when you’re chanting “merry go merry go merry go merry go round.” The fact that “Spotlight” opens with this oft-repeated hook really sets the juvenile tone, and not in a great way.

This is a shame, because the vocal-led portions of the track aren’t half bad. While the chorus may open with that god-awful line, it quickly expands into something more substantial. The group blends well, without any obvious weak links. However, I’m surprised that 1THE9 is debuting with such a rap-heavy track. While watching ‘Under Nineteen‘, I found the hip-hop team to be the least magnetic, and I wish “Spotlight” allowed the group’s vocalists more time to shine. In the end, this feels like K-pop at its most disposable. It’s perfectly fine as a bridge between better songs, but I don’t see myself returning to it often.

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