By: Claudia Siregar
After releasing their EP “WE” in May, South Korean boygroup Winner is back with “CROSS”. Consisting of six tracks including two solo tracks by main vocalist/leader Kang Seungyoon and rapper/main dancer Lee Seunghoon, “CROSS” is set to open Winner’s end of year tour across Asia. Preceded by the release of stunning teaser photos, “CROSS” seemingly turns out to lack motivation in contrast to Winner’s previous works – and I’m saying this for a reason.
With SOSO as the EP’s opening track and the first single off the EP, we are greeted by Seungyoon’s deep vocal layers, continued by main rapper Mino skillfully rapping over hip keyboard sounds and midrange tempo beats. The synths in SOSO make for a good addition to the song. The chorus is another thing. Listening to Seungyoon and Jinu sing “so-so…so-so” on repeat for a good twenty seconds is, considerably, a different experience. Maybe repetition was a good formula when they repeatedly sang the word “really” over tropical beats, but this time, it didn’t work. The second track off the album, OMG, is a catchy number that surprisingly didn’t make it as a single. A slightly trap-influenced synthpop ballad that would remind you of Winner’s EVERYDAY album, OMG is a good takeaway from the EP, along with closing track Don’t Be Shy.
Dress Up, is a disco-inspired dance pop track, slighly reminiscent of Love Me Love Me – a song that should definitely go into your K-pop party anthem playlist. As for the solo tracks, Flamenco serves us with Seunghoon rapping and singing over flamenco pop-influenced (yes you heard that right) music in his high pitched voice – definitely something new here while Wind, somewhat reminiscent of Björk’s Vespertine album with the vocal layerings, is a solo track by Seungyoon, in which he sings over funky tropical beats and makes you question what the vocal director did to such a powerful voice. While it’s not an established rule for singers who have been trained to become rock singers not to sing outside their genre (successes have happened with Yesung of Super Junior singing pop ballads and Lee Hongki of FTISLAND experimenting with funk and electropop elements in his second EP), it’s still disheartening to hear Seungyoon, an established rock singer with a powerful voice limit himself in Wind.
Overall, “CROSS” is rather far from ambitious. With the exception of Seunghoon’s experiment with flamenco pop, it is rather limiting.
Listen to Winner here: