[Review] Hyoyeon continues to be surprisingly convincing with “Badster”

Hyoyeon’s transformation into an EDM DJ initially felt like a gimmick, but last year’s addictive “Punk Right Now proved that she was willing to have fun with the genre. With “Badster“, she delves deeper into the scene, offering a convincing dose of psytrance that throws much of its focus on crafting a high-tempo instrumental.

Last month, Stray Kids borrowed elements of psytrance to create the excellent “Side Effects, which makes me wonder if this sub-genre is slowly making inroads with the K-pop industry. Its energetic electronic riffs would certainly be a welcome addition to the tired trends we’re dealing with now, so I have my fingers crossed. As a song, “Badster” is much more straightforward than “Side Effects” — sort of a sampler course of what psytrance has to offer. The percussion is propulsive from the beginning, delivering a brisk gallop supported by dark synth riffs and distorted electronics. It’s a galvanizing sound, at once accessible and intimidating.

“Badster” is at its best when Hyoyeon incorporates vocals into the track’s high-octane brew. The verses compel with a charismatic performance that moves from gritty to airy in the space of a few seconds. This segment offers a perfect roadmap of how psytrance’s best elements could be incorporated into a more traditional K-pop song. From here, “Badster” moves into its largely-instrumental hook. This structure does nothing to reinvent the wheel, but keeps the energy up with swerving synths and a bratty injection of rap. A killer chorus would have shot the song into the stratosphere, but I’m not going to complain too much. It’s refreshing to hear new sounds in K-pop — especially this month.

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