I.O.I. is a group that came into being as a cherry-picking out of a pool of 101 trainee idols from various different companies. While I never watched the show, I heard that there was a lot of good talent in the group. So far they’ve come out with one pre-debut track, “Crush,” and their actual debut, “Dream Girls.” Both of these singles piqued my interest, but I found myself forgetting about them after a couple of days. So, when I figured out that I.O.I. was coming out with something new as a seven-member subunit, and especially with a song that samples a well-known American classic, “What A Man” by Linda Lyndell, and later remade by hip-hop duo Salt ‘N’ Pepa as “Whatta Man” in 1993, I felt that this would go either really good or really bad.
Thankfully, it was the former.
The song is a fast-paced, edgy pop-rock track, which is a welcome change from the cutesy atmosphere I’ve found in a lot of female groups (even I.O.I. themselves) as of late. What’s more is the use of guitars, which appears throughout the song and gives me my fix of rock that I’ve needed in Kpop during the summer that has been sorely missed. In fact, I’ve found that I miss a lot of the edge that some female groups had in the past, and I’m glad to see it making a comeback.
However, what is most surprising about the song is the vocals. Both “Crush,” and “Dream Girls” didn’t do a good job in showing off the vocalists of the group, and I am incredibly glad to see it take center stage like this. During the chorus all of the members are singing, which reminded me of Sweetune-produced songs. However, the notable producer on this track is Ryan Jhun, who had a hand this year in tracks like Hyomin’s “Sketch,” and Fiestar’s “Apple Pie,” two songs I’ve thoroughly enjoyed over the past spring and summer months.
From what I’ve read, this comeback has been given a lot of controversy because of the music video because the girls are wearing leather and latex, and are also under eighteen. I have mixed feelings about this because I get where people are coming from when they say it’s weird they’re doing a sexy concept being so young, but I also don’t think the dance for this song is overly sexual, or at least in a way that would make me uncomfortable to watch.
“Whatta Man,” is a major step up from “Crush” and “Dream Girls,” and I’m really hoping that I.O.I. decides to keep going in this direction, because if it does I can see the girls gaining some traction in the Kpop world.