[Review] ONF’s “Beautiful Beautiful” is the bright, lively anthem that 2021 needed

I kind of feel like I willed this song into existence. Between my constant mentions of ONF’s electro-funk mix of It’s Raining last year, to The Bias List’s latest endeavor involving 90’s techno J-pop, I’ve all-but erected an imaginary shrine in honor of songs like this. And when even SHINee refused to bring the funk for their title track, ONF was left to pick up the slack. After all, they’re the ones who delivered the incredible Complete in 2018. And with another track produced by the always-great Hwang Hyun, what could go wrong?

Nothing. Nothing could go wrong. Beautiful Beautiful is fantastic. Its verve and energy brings me right back to my early days in K-pop, but nostalgia only gets you so far. The track succeeds on its own merits. It’s a taut, exciting blast of funky dance pop without misstep.

Anchored by a catchy “rum pum pum” refrain, Beautiful Beautiful opens in thundering fashion — like a pop punch to the gut. Before you can orient yourself, it swerves into a fantastic electro-charged verse. The instrumental here is among the best things I’ve heard this year, and things get even funkier during the second verse when MK’s smooth vocals weave effortlessly along the groove. It’s so clean and propulsive and thrilling.

Beautiful’s chorus takes advantage of this high-octane energy, offering a descending, harmonized refrain before exploding in that “rum pum pum” hook once more. This would have been enough to please these funk-loving ears, but the track becomes even better during its standout bridge, which moves from effusive chant (underlined by electric guitar solo!) to inventive – almost holiday-like – choral piece without even switching gears.

Longtime readers will know that I don’t give 10/10’s only hours after release, but I won’t be surprised if Beautiful Beautiful gets there quickly. It’s hard not to see this as “song of the year” material.

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