Arguably the industry’s most powerful rookies, Produce 101 project group Wanna One, are back on the scene with a prerelease single ahead of their comeback in two weeks. “I.P.U.” (short for “I Promise You”) is advertised as a “special theme track,” which I can only assume is their fancy way of saying “fan song.” I hate to join the chorus of negative voices complaining about this release—after all, it’s not the comeback’s real title track; it’s just a fan song, and the whole point of fan songs is to please the crowd. But there’s no getting around the fact that “I.P.U.” is the group’s most boring song to date.
To be clear, that’s not saying much. The group’s discography so far has been pretty dang stellar, including the few B-sides included on their two mini-albums. And if you come at it from the perspective that this release is just for fun, “I.P.U.” gets its job done. Still, the song doesn’t even come close to escaping the enormous shadow cast by past title tracks “Energetic” and “Beautiful.” Its EDM hook is the dullest we’ve heard in a while, in K-pop or anywhere else. It’s so tedious that not even the atypical structural moments, such as the fake drop or the rearrangement of the prechorus and chorus halfway through, can make up the ground lost by these quacky synths. There are a few highlights to the melody—the first verse is quite promising—but again, all melodic potential gets lost in the chorus.
There are groups out there for whom “I.P.U.” would be a decent addition to a cache of moderately tolerable title tracks. With a group like Wanna One, whose management has been rolling in money since before they debuted and whose work so far has all but transcended their rookie status, “I.P.U.” just doesn’t fly. Still, I’ll admit that its only true failure is the hook. A song that doesn’t aim solely to feed fans a shot of vanilla sweetness will, hopefully, turn out differently. I’m sure that’s what the group has in store for the main title track of “Golden Age” later this month.
I.P.U.: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? Uhhhhhhh flop.
Take a look at Wanna One’s “I.P.U.” MV below: