One of many things in the K-pop world I looked forward to this year was the solo debut of I.O.I.s Chungha. Now that its finally come, I can check one more thing off my list! Originally debuting with the Produce 101 group under YMC Entertainment last year, Chungha is now on her own under MNH Entertainment with a mini-album entitled Hands On Me and title track Why Dont You Know.
Why Dont You Know follows the current EDM/tropical house trend à la DJ Snake and Kygo with a hint of dancehall influence. The beat doesnt sound like anything new, though I liked the hint of guitars added to the mix. Chunghas voice is rather soft for this particular genre and ended up being sometimes drowned out by the harder and much louder instrumental. It seems like Chungha took note of this, however, since her voice picks up volume from time to time.
Lyrically, Why Dont You Know conveys the protagonists frustrations with her love interests inability to recognize her feelings for him, as shown in the chorus:
He keeps saying nothings going on between us
Im the one whos right, so why are you being like that
He says that its not love
I cant help my heart, so why are you doing this
The song features a short rap courtesy of Nucksal, a rapper under Korean record label Vismajor Company who once appeared on Show Me the Money. I dont have much to say about the rap because I dont think it added much to the overall song. The rap reads well but just doesnt have a place in the song as a whole:
As always, the world is still old
I show you my heart but its still too hard to close it
When time passes and I have regrets
Ah, although I tell you in advance
The accompanying MV is filled to the brim with a dreamy aesthetic reminiscent of Tumblr: rushing water, kaleidoscopic effects, flowers, rainbows, and dolphins swimming in mid-air. It opens with a shot of a dreamcatcher followed by Chungha reaching her arm up to a sky of moving waves. Throughout the entire video, the camera cuts between dance sequences in either an empty field or a luxurious white room and singing sequences in front of a wall of flowers, in a bedroom, or in the aforementioned field.
Although I enjoyed listening to the song and watching Chunghas great dance moves, it felt like Why Dont You Know had a Taeyeon vibe to it.
At first I thought I was forcing myself to hear something that wasnt there, but the resemblance kept sticking out as the song went on. MNH tried to mold Why Dont You Know with the aesthetic Taeyeon had for Why and Starlight and ended up failing miserably. Chunghas occasional voice projections sounded contrived for a light voice like hers, and the song as a whole didnt seem to fit her personal vocal range. As a result, Chungha debuted with an image that didnt feel like her own, causing the entire release to feel underwhelming.
I came into Chunghas solo debut hoping to enjoy listening to Why Dont You Know, and while it had its ups, they were ultimately outweighed by its downs. The MV was great as was the choreography; I just wish Chunghas production team had focused more on molding her into her own image rather than that of someone else. Nevertheless, I congratulate Chungha on her solo debut and wish her luck and success!
(YouTube, Genius, Images via MNH Entertainment)
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