While the final lineup of
El 7-Up EL7Z UP was exciting due to the All-Star cast of lesser known faves in it, I honestly didn’t have much expectation for the releases by the actual group, as what they were given to work with on Queendom Puzzle itself wasn’t exactly promising. So in a way their debut with “CHEEKY” was something of a pleasant surprise, as it was mostly a fun trip.
It’s a real shame that this was a project group song, because the core of it has year-end list hit written all over it. The melody of the chorus and “feeling cheeky cheeky nothing you can do about it” hook (and its variants) delivered with a brisk energy make for a memorable earworm that would be deserving of virality. Unfortunately, unless they gave each member decent parts for the song, fans probably would’ve rioted and boycotted even more than usual. Thus, “CHEEKY” ends up being bogged down in momentum-sapping verses of quasi-sung lyrics and raps set to overwhelming reverberating bass hits that barely make sense but were ultimately necessary due to the requirements of the lineup and strengths of the members.
It’s not a coincidence that the song is easily at its best in the final 80 seconds or so that goes from the second chorus to the vocal bridge to the final chorus reprise to the breakdown. In that, it’s just the central melody, vocal peaks, and hooks, with minimal interruptions of the flow to the bright and playful energy that it should’ve stuck with all along. Sure, it’s a bit all over the place in terms of elements no matter what, but a connecting melody can make even that approach work.
In the end, “CHEEKY” is a difficult one to grade because the vibe for most of it is right up my alley, and the chorus has a timeless pop appeal to it. If you’re able to take yourself to another enlightened plane of existence during the verses (or if you even like them) then this song shouldn’t have much problem catching on with you. Regardless, I hope they’re able to release more in the future, because this is a promising debut and I’d like to see them get more chances to get the formula exactly right.