(G)I-DLE raced out the gates during their 2018 debut year, releasing two great singles and a great album, by my count. For most they’ve only continued their ascension since, as evidenced by their growing popularity and sales. However, for me, no single they’ve released since has come all that close to their debut offerings in terms of quality.
Needless to say, but by 2021 I was less hyped for their comeback than I was just a couple years ago, but “Hwaa” looked to get them back on track and ended up being a nice surprise.
On paper, “Hwaa” shouldn’t work all that well with me. A moombahton-based, at times deliberate work that tries to incorporate some traditional instrumentation seems like a mess waiting to happen. Yet, the core of it appeals from the start, with the booming bass demanding attention, and the transition back-and-forth into softer traditional elements are executed flawlessly. It almost comes off laid-back at times, though still possessing enough kick to not be boring.
On first listen, I think it’s easy to believe that the verses end up as the highlight, as the vocals have an ethereal feel and they’re also where Soyeon showcases her rap aptitude. By comparison, the chorus can come off lacking necessary bombast to hook the listener. But much like “Hann”, it has a melody that’s crafted in a way that leaves an indelible impression on the listener, one that grows over time as memorable and impactful. I’m not usually a fan of instrumental-heavy, repetitive choruses as they can come off lazy and uninterested — unless it’s uniquely engaging and/or ha torrid pacing (like Dreamcatcher’s “Scream”) — but (G)I-DLE have seemed to make a habit of finding the needle in the haystack in this regard and “Hwaa” is just their latest to do so.
Oddly enough, my main complaint is about something I normally do not ever criticize: the closing of the song. Usually it’s easy to enough to do a bridge transition into one final ramp up, especially when you have a quality melody to work with. “Hwaa” seemed primed for the same and then … it was just over, and not in a “leave them wanting more” way either. Odd choice.
Regardless, “Hwaa” gets (G)I-DLE back on track musically for me personally, and will likely only continue their path upwards and onwards in the K-pop world for everybody else. It has one rare factor working against it, but “Hwaa” has already grown on me in the hours after release, so it definitely seems like another (G)I-DLE effort with staying power.