[Review] WINNER hit a single iffy note in an otherwise lovable summer jam with “I LOVE U”

Reading some of the build up to WINNER‘s comeback has been amusing, if only for the rhetoric that this is like something that’s been delayed by a hiatus caused by military enlistment when it’s basically just on a typical YG Entertainment release schedule.

Regardless, their return single in “I LOVE U” does indeed seem like a celebration of sorts, and it’s appropriately timed for the summer.

Unfortunately I have to start with my most contentious point about “I LOVE U” because how it ages almost solely depends on it. Basically, when I first listened to the chorus, I honestly chortled a bit hearing that high note because it sounded like a musical shitpost of sorts. I dunno, it just felt so weird to include in what was otherwise a very good to great song. Over repeated listens I’ve gradually warmed to it to a worrying degree (like I’m being Stockholm syndrome’d by it or something), which leaves me undecided on how I’ll feel about it over the long haul, but I appreciate the attempt at least, even if it is a bit shrill.

Speaking of the rest of the song, it both starts and finishes extremely well, beginning by establishing the funky summer groove that carries the whole song forward and ending with a flourish that includes melodic ad-libs and almost choral backing from all members that take things to the next level and make you want to hit repeat. These things make about 80% of the song absolutely great for me with just the aforementioned chorus and the second verse with its hip-hop elements surprisingly not fitting as well in the flow of things.

While I’m not sure where this leaves “I LOVE U” in terms of like year-end contention, for now it’s something that I can enjoy for the most part when it comes on, and it’s at least trending in the right direction in terms of replay value, which is more than I can say for a lot of efforts from the industry’s biggest this year. Either way, it’s a lot of fun and this is easily my favorite WINNER single since 2017’s “Island“.

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