Produce 101’s second season is in full swing, bringing K-Pop’s most promising trainees together in a competition to discover who will be in the final group. Whereas last year, participants were competing for a place in the newest girl group, this year the end product will be an eleven-member boy group. This past week, the remaining 35 performers released a total of five tracks: “Show Time,” “I Know You Know,” “Open,” “Oh Little Girl,” and “Never.” Each one was produced by a subgroup of seven members who hope to win over listeners with their unique approaches and talents. While the songs are all impressive (and make me sad only eleven of the 35 singers can win in the end), they are not necessarily equal, with the subgroup Knock garnering the most support for their song, “Open.” Here, I’ll sift through the set and give my ranking of the tracks.
5.”Oh Little Girl”-Slate
Members: Choi Min Ki, Lee Gun Hee, Jung Se Woon, Bae Jin Young, Ahn Hyung Seob, Lee Eui Woong, Park Ji Hoon
While I appreciate the effort made in this song to mix genres, infusing hip-hop with a cheerful air, the endeavor did not really work for me. The song simply does not flow between styles fluidly enough. Between the rap and light vocals, I cannot quite decide where to place the performance on the genre spectrum. It likely would have benefitted from committing more fully to one format, because hip hop and innocent boy group visuals did not meld so well here.
Members: Hwang Min Hyun, Kim Jong Hyun, Kim Jae Hwan, Ong Sung Woo, Lee Dae Hwi, Park Woo Jin, and Lai Guan Lin
This track may not be my favorite from the five, but it might just have the best vocals. I absolutely adore the singing at every turn, with the members’ smooth voices carrying through. However, the instrumental portions and music in general really hurt the song for me, and get a little repetitive by the end. With the same beat carrying through the whole song, I’m left wanting something to spice up the melody, but never really get it. I’d listen to the track again for the vocals alone but could do without the rest.
Members: Kim Yong Guk, Kang Daniel, Kang Dong Ho, Yoo Seon Ho, Joo Hak Nyeon, Im Young Min, and Takada Kenta
“Open” distinctly reminds me of the modern EDM style and mysterious visuals of VIXX‘s latest release, which I take as a positive for Knock. I love the futuristic aura the song imparts and absolutely adore the choreography in its intricacies. At the same time the song has an element of seriousness, but also a freeing vibe that makes it a dance track. It works on multiple levels and is excellent in the moment, but does not leave me rushing for another listen.
Members: Noh Tae Hyun, Kim Samuel, Ha Sung Woon, Park Woo Dam, Lee Woo Jin, Kim Sang Gyun, and Yoon Ji Sung
“Show Time” is an excellent track for opening the summer; it’s fun, fresh fun, and great for dancing. No question, you’ll get pumped from hearing this song and will have a great time no matter where you’re listening to it. The overall excitement of the whole group combined with the eclectic solos and dance break–each filled with its own quirky, humorous, or intense character–make up a song perfect for enjoying the thrills of life.
1.”I Know You Know”-Monday-Tuesday Boys
Members: Kim Tae Dong, Kwon Hyun Bin, Seo Sung Hyuk, Kim Ye Hyun, Kim Dong Hyun, Kim Dong Han, and Jang Moon Bok
“I Know You Know” has all the same characteristics that I love about “Show Time,” but it also comes with elements of funk that set it apart as a unique listen. In addition, it has great raps in the middle that don’t disrupt the overall upbeat feel of the track. This song is my winner because it’s lively and thrilling without being overly familiar. It can be easy to make a hype track by just sticking to established formats, but Tuesday Boys went for a different style that worked out beautifully.