Admittedly, the solo career of Jackson Wang (GOT7) wasn’t for me initially. Frankly, I was baffled by a lot of his choices (or the choices that were made for him) and felt things got off to a rather rocky start. However, he’s recently found not only his personal voice, but what works best for his career and array of talents. Things really clicked last year as he steered back towards pop and R&B, putting it all together on the excellent “LMLY”.
Now Jackson returns with an English-language single in “Blow“, which takes him down another different direction and showcases his growth as an artist by stepping further out of his comfort zone.
Effectively a pop-rock track from the mid-00s with a touch of dance-pop and a hell of a 90s hard rock riff, the instrumental is always compelling and helps to carry the song even when it’s absent vocals or hooks. There’s a tension to the effort from the start, and the bassline creates this almost entrancing effect when paired with Jackson’s sultry vocal during the verses, which then transitions into a nice crackling effect in the pre-chorus as it builds.
After bringing things to a stop, the chorus is triggered by stomping and a scream, with the choral “ooh-ohs” being the only vocals to support it. Chorus chorus chorus, it’s what I’ve been whining about so much in 2022, so here we go, another track that doesn’t really have a typical hook-y chorus … except it’s actually great. That’s because instead of some generic transition and drop, it’s setup exquisitely and the instrumental explodes with energy, which is highlighted by a great head-nodding guitar riff, to create something engaging and captivating.
Also notable is that the tempo shifts throughout the song, but in such a way that isn’t jarring and fits cohesively within the track, which I suppose shows what’s possible if you aren’t trying to arrange things as 10 different songs at once. I’m still on the fence about whether the sub-three minute runtime is robbing listeners of further excellence or if it’s a great ploy to keep replayability high, but it’s a minor quibble.
By the way, the music video is a star on its own, as the sets, the styling, and the choreo are all great. It feels a lot like an 80s movie at times, and the tattered theatrical aesthetic a great touch, giving off a sort of ‘The Greatest Showman‘ vibe. The modern dance interpretation of push and pull relations is artistically done as well, and it leaves the kind of indelible memory on the listener that enhances the song in perpetuity.
Needless to say, I enjoy the pop star version of Jackson exponentially more than the rapper. While he doesn’t have like elite pipes, he’s plenty capable of a variety of styles and this framework best allows him to take advantage of being extremely charismatic and a compelling performer. Furthermore, while “LMLY” was impressive as a trendy pop song, this was a bit more off the wall from him, and the fact that he was able to step out of his comfort zone and still deliver something excellent speaks well of his potential going forward.