Buried Treasure: aespa – YOLO

A K-pop act’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.

I’ll always be that person who rushes toward album tracklists to see who the songs’ producers are. Whether I already enjoy an act or not, that behind-the-scenes talent is what really gets me excited about a song. And, as soon as I saw the name Albi Albertsson on aespa’s YOLO, I knew this would be a standout. This guy has delivered a number of classics and tends to craft great hooks and exciting instrumentals.

There aren’t many fantastic melodies to be found on aespa’s new album, but around track four the music takes a definite turn. Hot Air Balloon is a little too cutesy for me, but YOLO strikes a better balance. Its production is bold and anthemic, and although there are still plenty of chanted catchphrasey moments, the melodies are hearty and exciting. The overall sound is not too dissimilar from Red Velvet’s work on their 2017 The Red Summer album. It has that big, throw-everything-at-the-wall sense of cacophony, held together by tight songwriting and a series of charismatic vocals.

I’m not sure this is the style I want aespa to pursue in the future, but it’s nice to hear them having fun. This would have made a great summer single, though the term “YOLO” is definitely outdated.






Grade: B

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