Buried Treasure: ONEUS – Incomplete

A K-pop group’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.

ONEUS’s Devil is a great album — solid all the way through. Its weakest moments come at the very beginning, which is frustrating. Its title track No Diggity is actually among my least favorite songs, though it’s slowly growing on me. The problem is, there are just so many buried treasures here that would have made for better singles. I could easily spotlight the funky What You Doing or the pulsing Lion Heart, or even the primo power ballads/mid-tempos Youth and I.P.U. But in the end, the song that’s sticking with me the most is Incomplete (완벽하지 않아도 괜찮아).

Honestly, a lot of this comes down to Seoho’s vocal. I think I’m ready to induct him into the small club of boy group vocalists whom I consider to be the best of this new generation. He would join Golden Child’s Joochan & Y, ATEEZ’s Jongho and Lucy’s Sangyeop (if you count Lucy as a typical “boy group”). Having this kind of vocal in an idol group goes a long way, and can make even meager material feel impactful and dynamic. He gets a chance to stretch his vocals on many of Devil’s tracks, and takes the first part of each chorus on Incomplete. It’s a rousing performance, bursting with emotion and power.

Beyond this, Incomplete just has a great build. Its first verse is rather understated, but supported by exciting percussion as it slowly snowballs with the addition of electric guitar. The second verse is even better, as the track upends itself and briefly transforms into a frenzied bit of speed rock. But when it comes down to it, Incomplete is all about that climactic vocal in the chorus. So many hooks rely on instrumental loops these days, but I’d much rather hear these knockout moments delivered by the idols themselves.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9