Chungha is back with “Roller Coaster,” her first comeback since her debut last June. EP “Offset” follows the precedent set by the debut album, leading with an upbeat dance track and later throwing in some jazz as well as a ballad. Previously a member of survival show Produce 101’s project girl group I.O.I, Chungha is one of few solo female idols who has recently debuted with a mature concept, without going the R&B route. The dance pop she’s been doing suits her, though it’s not particularly striking in the grand scheme of things. “Roller Coaster” is a good song, but not one I think I’ll remember past this week.
A point in “Roller Coaster”s favor is that it does not chase trends as zealously as her debut song “Why Don’t You Know” did. While “Why Don’t You Know” sunk its teeth into last year’s tropical trend, the new song aims at a more classic sound, a variety of pop that would sound more or less at home in any of the past few decades. I like this genre for Chungha. “Roller Coaster” feels like she’s cementing her sound. Both the beat and the melody are fairly simply constructed, but the song doesn’t have any actual flaws to point out. If she sticks with this timeless pop and maybe sharpens it up a bit for her next comeback, I can see her growing on me big-time in the future.
The rest of the EP is also worth a listen, though perhaps not more than one or two. “Do It” takes the pop of the title track and leans it in the direction of hip-hop. It grooves, to be sure, but the power of its hook is limited without a solid melody. “Bad Boy” is my favorite of the new songs, though to be honest, it’s not quite as organized as the others on the EP. Chungha brings back the bouncy jazz that she showed off earlier in “Make a Wish,” which was also my favorite song from the first album. “Bad Boy” isn’t as compositionally cohesive as “Make a Wish,” but similarly to “Make a Wish,” its production is more adventurous than most of Chungha’s music thus far. Even if this audacity renders it a little jumbled this time around, it’s easily the most interesting thing on “Offset.” Moreover, Chungha’s vocals are far more suited to this fun, jazzy sound than to the more ambitious vocal melodies of her title tracks.
Overall, it appears that Chungha is moving in the right direction. She has already built up massive popularity after making her name well-known through I.O.I promotions. If she carves out a niche for herself—as the most successful solo artists before her, such as Taeyeon, IU, and HyunA, have done—she could be one of the most powerful women in the industry in a few years. She’ll have to develop a more individual sound, to be sure, but her career is young and she has plenty of time to make that happen.
ROLLER COASTER: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? Lite bop.
Take a look at Chungha’s “Roller Coaster” MV below: