luminous; loona

oct 7 2022

As a longtime Loona fan, this song was a huge letdown for me. I know a lot of the time for Japanese releases, Kpop groups will just throw whatever at the wall and hope it sticks, but Loona's Japanese debut "Hula Hoop" was such a thoughful, interesting, and well-produced song. "Hula Hoop" and "Starseed" were undeniably Japanese releases while still feeling like Loona, with natural catchiness and charm. "Hula Hoop" and "Starseed" were also breaths of fresh air for Loona in a time when their Korean music was stagnating in Girl Crush Land, giving a cute and bubbly concept that fans (like me) had been on their hands and knees begging for.

But their Japanese comeback, "Luminous," feels like the opposite of that. Instead of a breath of fresh air, breaking out of the badass leather harness combat boot concept that is overplayed (and frankly, just bad, at this point), Luminous is a disappointing return to form after they had finally released a refreshing Korean song. After "Flip That," I had (perhaps naively) believed that Loona were taking a break from the girl crush/badass concepts to show off a different side, but it seems like they have pigeonholed themselves into this kind of faux-empowering shouty, stompy pop.

The song begins with this grating beat and an empty sounding background instrumentals with the girls speak-singing "W-wanna be me w-wanna" and a bunch of random sound effects like police sirens, presumably to make the girls sound more badass and cool. The instrumental picks up with this grating, zipper-sounding filter over it and we launch straight into a Heejin rap before the song can even really establish a melody. When someone finally starts singing 30 seconds in, they've put such a heavy filter over her voice that it sounds nasally and piercing. At this point, I really did think the song could redeem itself with a good chorus, but the chorus just makes it worse. It's a repetitive, speak-singy chorus that honestly does not feel like it should be part of the song, not really matching the empty, non-melodic instrumental at all. The rap verses and the chorus feel like two entirely different songs with no attempt to transfer naturally between them. After the bridge, the song feels like it's trying to build to something, but it just throws in some weak-sounding hand claps before returning to the same incredibly empty instrumental.

The song has no progression and no flow. It feels like the recording and production were done in a day, which they honestly might have been. Loona only had something like two weeks after Queendom 2 and before their US tour to record this song, and it unfortunately shows. The song itself is just bad, but the production is downright appalling. I can't help but think that if they had more time, and access to their power vocal Chuu, they might have been able to either pick a better song or at least polish Luminous to a releasable state. Sorry for being a Chuugummy, but this song would instantly be at least ten times better if it had Chuu in the background belting some crazy vocal runs.

Like I said, I've been a longtime Loona fan and I love the group, which is why this song is so disappointing. I know what they can do, and this feels like BBC's lazy attempt to cash in on their Queendom 2 fame as fast as possible, not realizing that these fans will still be here in a couple months and will be happier if they spent time and effort crafting a good song for all twelve members of Loona to sing. I genuinely don't get how BBC thinks they can push their best singer and most popular member out of the group and not face serious trouble. If this is the best they can do without Chuu— keep it.

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