Wooseok x Kuanlin Declare “I’m a Star” in Debut
PENTAGON’s Wooseok and WANNA ONE’s Kuanlin have paired up to debut as the duo Wooseok x Kuanlin, dropping mini-album 9801 on March 11. The mini-album features the title track as well as two solo songs for each member. As WANNA ONE’s activities have concluded, many wondered what would become of the former members.
Title: “I’m a Star”
It’s hard for me to decide how exactly I feel about this song. “I’m a Star” has a rhythmic simplicity that on one hand is off-putting with how basic it is, but on the other is extremely catchy. Mixed feelings is the best way to describe the perception I have, as I grimace slightly while dancing along. The basic melody has hip-hop undertones that drive the rhythm forward, a light atmosphere established by the staccato use of instrumentals and repetitive rhythm. If you’re not feeling the desire for intense and heavy music, this is a good track to keep things light and fun.
There’s a lot to say about the music video itself. Overflowing with highly stimulating visuals, it takes more than one viewing to really see everything that’s going on in the video. I’m not even sure where to begin with trying to decipher the meaning of it all, but it more than likely is meant to be overly loud and playful on purpose to match the tone of the song. From theatrical scenes of Kuanlin in space surrounded by floating emojis to Wooseok on set with a bunch of sentient puppets, you definitely won’t be bored and probably will remain bewildered through the viewing of this video.
9801 kicks off its B-sides with Kuanlin’s first solo “Hypey,” a track featuring Jackson of GOT7. Jackson’s solo musical influence is written all over this song, but it is a little difficult to get over the use of the phrase “hypey,” despite the intense hip-hop beat. It definitely has a more intense feel from the title, and would be a classic hip-hop song if it wasn’t for that misplaced phrase all over the chorus.
Wooseok’s first solo comes next, a lighter and generally warmer track. “Always Difficult Always Beautiful” has a certain charm to it in that it sounds a lot brighter than other works that feature Wooseok, bringing a new dimension to the musician’s style. Switching back to Kuanlin, we have his final solo track “Good Feeling,” influenced heavily by traditional western hip-hop. This song is fierce, in complete contrast of “I’m a Star.” Speaking of bringing new dimensions to style, this song is something you wouldn’t expect to come from Kuanlin at all, but that’s what adds to its appeal. The album concludes with Wooseok’s “Domino,” another bright track that features acoustic influences, which make it feel much more like a pop song than the predominantly hip-hop tracks on the rest of the album.
It feels almost as if the two members switched personalities for this album: Wooseok’s solo tracks sound much more like something you’d find on the B-sides of a WANNA ONE album, while Kuanlin’s tracks sound like they belong on PENTAGON’s B-sides. I find this contrast particularly interesting and definitely unexpected. I do wonder what gave Cube Entertainment the idea to pair these two up for a debut, but have a sneaking suspicion that it may be a sign of things to come in PENTAGON’s future.