I’ve always thought of Playback as one of K-Pop’s most underrated female acts. They’re one of those girl groups who come out with decent content, but unfortunately struggle to gain major popularity because of their lack of promotions. The now five-membered girl group has very well-rounded members, but I feel that the management behind the group lacks resources, hence they couldn’t whip up a comeback sooner, even if they wanted to.
It’s been about two years since their last release, and I was genuinely happy when they announced both a pre-release track and a new single, especially as this is the first one with Ma Eunjin, a new member who was one of my favorites from K-Pop Star 6. They first released “Untold Story,” the pre-release track that has become one of my favorites from the year, but it’s with the title track “Want You To Say” that they attempted to reboot their status in the K-Pop market. Unfortunately, I didn’t think it was the right choice for a title track.
“Want You To Say”
For starters, I think “Want You To Say” is alright. The verses are written well, and I personally dig how they managed to squeeze in the rap lines. However, the chorus’s first half is forgettable, failing to spark an interest in the listener even if the latter half is written more interestingly. The song comes off generic at times because it is in the Tropical House genre, a genre that I feel K-Pop has overdone in the past year and a half, and the arrangement lacks a structural twist, making it predictable. I was ultimately disappointed in their choice of title track; apart from it falling a bit flat in quality, I felt like the song’s genre didn’t fit the fall season, and they strayed away from the R&B-pop music that they perfectly pull off. The song is pretty much just b-side material. It would have immensely helped the song if the chords for the hook were different from the verses. It pains me to say that this is my least favorite Playback title track.
The music video for the track, however, is the group’s best so far. It obviously had better planning and execution, and I loved their location choices. The track should have been released earlier in the summer, as the video definitely had more summer vibes, which are difficult to make compatible with the fall season.
What Should Have Been The Title Track
The saving grace of the new era is “Untold Story.” It’s in the same genre as their first two singles, and I personally see it as a part two of “I Wonder.” Their vocals, the harmonies, and the vocal processing in this track are heaps better, and it is exactly what I was expecting from the group, especially now that the group has both Woorim and Eunjin’s power vocals to boast.
The track’s arrangement is also very unexpected, with the song opening with some neat table hits. The combination of both the electronic piano and the bass was very flavorful, and I love how the melody for the track changes every time a new verse enters. Though I loved the vocal runs during the pre-chorus, it is the chorus that does wonders. The chorus starts off very laid-back, but the way the melody is written ascendingly makes it so interesting, especially since the girls start with a full voice but end the opening line in falsetto. My personal favorite aspect of the track is that it plays with your expectations, especially during the “I go, I go, you go, you go” hook. It breaks down as if it’s entering a new verse, only to bring all the instruments back in to establish that it is still part of the hook.
The last track of the single is “I Understand,” a solo version of Ma Eunjin’s debut track that originally featured urban singer and producer d.ear. The ballad features an arrangement that fully relies on electronic piano and a soft drum base. I personally loved the original duet version; I felt the track needed two contrasting voices to prevent it from sounding too repetitive, as both the first and second verses’ melodies are written similarly. Nevertheless, the track is a breath of fresh air. I instantly loved it when it came out. Other than it was a good slow jam, it showcased the same charm Eunjin exuded in K-Pop Star 6. You’ll definitely love this song as well if you’re a big fan of soft urban/R&B tracks.
Overall, Playback’s new comeback is both a hit and a miss. In this era, they released their strongest track, “Untold Story.” Their mistake was that they didn’t make it the title track. I was honestly looking forward to their full comeback because I was convinced that their pre-release track was a teaser to a comeback similar in style, but it wasn’t so. That being said, however, I think the group will fare stronger in their next comeback. I hope they stick to the genre they excel in because, as we’ve seen in “Playback,” “I Wonder,” and “Untold Story,” they definitely own the R&B-pop genre. Now excuse me as I listen to “Untold Story” a hundred times more.
“Playback” Title Score – 5.0/10
Music Video Score – 7.0/10
Album Score – 8.0/10