Big news! Everyone’s favorite predebut girl group LOONA is making moves to wrap up their extensive predebut promotions, having revealed their twelfth and final member Olivia Hye with the release of her single “Egoist.” The single goes in the electronic direction of recent LOONA solos such as Yves’ “New” and Gowon’s “One & Only,” recruiting fellow member JinSoul for a rap verse. Yeah, “Egoist” does share similarities with JinSoul’s own spacy EDM solo “Singing in the Rain,” but “Egoist” is considerably more melodic, gathering its power from cascading vocal hooks rather than relying on fitful drops. As the final predebut solo, “Egoist” serves to round out the electronic end of LOONA’s musical identity, but it also holds its own amid the imposing company of the impressive preceding solos.
“Egoist” operates in this dreamy dimensional space where layers of synths and distortion effects create a kind of misty distance in the song’s auditory landscape. I won’t say it doesn’t border on overproduction, but where it works, it has this grand, almost mysterious effect that you might get in dreampop or alternative R&B. There are a few places that make you wish they had eased up a bit, such as JinSoul’s part, where the production’s so heavy that she sounds a bit too faraway. Of course, JinSoul’s rap is still one of the best parts, as much due to her voice as to the bizarrely hollow echo of the dance sounds inserted into the verse. What I love most about this track, though, is its sweeping dynamics across multiple hooks, drawing out energy through changes in the beat with a constant thrumming bass. Take, for instance, the transition into the “Love myself today” part—wow! The way the beat breaks and pulls back all at once! And the way it’s only used twice instead of being included in all three choruses—there’s restraint in that structure, and when that hook’s second repetition closes the song, the ending feels fresh and final at the same time.
The single’s B-side “Rosy,” featuring fellow members Gowon and Heejin, navigates hooks almost as well as the title track. This song reminds me of how crazy I was about the side track from Gowon’s single, “Seesaw,” which also featured two other LOONA members. Okay, no, it doesn’t top “Seesaw” (not even close) but it’s in the same brightly dreamy electronic vein. Heejin’s part is especially captivating, brief as it is, and Gowon’s sing-talking which I’ve missed makes a return. If the next predebut releases follow the same pattern that LOONA projects have before now, then the next step towards debut is a unit EP with Yves, Chuu, Gowon and Olivia Hye; after that, there’s nothing left for this group to do but debut already. For me, it can’t come quickly enough.
EGOIST: KAYBOP OR KAYFLOP? When was the last time a LOONA solo let us down? The distant past. Bop.
Take a look at Olivia Hye’s “Egoist” MV below: