Welcome to ‘The dark side of the moon:’ Loona’s third album burns brightest

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The 12 ladies of Loona during their

Jacqueline Sumida

The 12 ladies of Loona during their "Butterfly" promotional period and their burnt, black outfits could have been a sign of "B#rn" the entire time.

On Feb. 5, the most ambitious girl group project in the world finally came back after what seemed like radio silence for months. After two wins at the Asia Artist Awards (AAA) and the surprise health concerns for leader HaSeul, “B#rn is coming.” The 12-headed monster group known as Loona has finally returned.

Loona, or “Girl of the Month” in Korean, is a 12 member group out of a very small company called Blockberry Creative (BBC) that debuted as a full group in 2018. But they didn’t debut all together as most groups do, instead, BBC decided to create one of the most ambitious groups of all time.

Starting with the debut of their first member Heejin in 2016, the company would introduce a new member once a month and then a subunit after the announcements of three to four members. HeeJin, HyunJin, HaSeul and ViVi were introduced as the first sub-unit, LOONA ⅓. YeoJin, introduced in Jan. 2017, would be her own solo artist, not fitting into a subunit.

Kim Lip, JinSoul and Choerry were introduced as part of the girl crush subunit LOONA Odd Eye Circle (OEC) in Sept. 2017. Rounding out the group was Yves, Chuu, Go Won and Olivia Hye, also known as LOONA yyxy (youth youth by young). Then finally on Aug. 20, 2018, the fully formed Loona united for “Hi High,” their up-tempo debut track from their first mini-album “++” Then on Feb. 19, 2019, the group would come back with a repackaged version of “++” called “XX” and the new title track, “Butterfly.”

Now in their new release “#,” (sharp) the ladies called Loona have come back harder and stronger than ever.

The lead single “So What” doesn’t take itself lightly straight from the get-go. From its low horn royal sounding entrance, the song easily slips into a pounding bass accompanied by deep treble electronics. The part that’s even more satisfying than the thumping instrumental is obviously the insane vocals that push this track from good to amazing.

Loona itself is a multi-faceted, well-oiled machine that isn’t noticed much and they use these emotions to fuel this unforgiving track. This song switches from insane harmonies in Kim Lip and Chuu’s pre-choruses and chorus to fiery rap lines from YeoJin, JinSoul and Olivia Hye in an instant. Every line burns with intensity and a “don’t mess up my tempo” kind of attitude.

“Eh blow it away with firework Burn/ Oh the look in your eyes became fierce/ The shiniest star that is highest/ Let me show you catching it/ If you’ve been waiting endlessly/ Follow me.”

Although it’s not number one in the tracklisting, “Number 1” has a much more elegant and smooth sound than the mini-album’s burning a-side. Its sound has that free-flowing aspect to it along the likes of iKON’s “Love Scenario” and Cherry Bullet’s “Really Really,” where the steady beat makes it very consistent throughout.

As a song about a trusting love, the elegant verses from HeeJin and Kim Lip set up a beautiful duet chorus from Chuu and Go Won that flow like a fine wine. Each member uses their lines to show a different side to their personality, closer to “Where You At” or “Curiosity” in feeling.

Loona’s main point is their ability to switch from concept to concept in the blink of an eye, solidifying themselves as independent from any other girl group in the K-Pop industry. Throughout this release, they do that exact thing and go from powerful to soft to sentimental in seconds without any hesitation. As a result, a listener has to pay attention to every song to get a full Loona experience.

“Oh (Yes I Am)” runs along a similar vein to “Number 1,” but with a slight focus on vocals similar to “Badaboom” by WJSN. With its bright electronic touch, Loona’s fine vocals are punctuated by an amazing rap duet by ViVi and Olivia Hye, punctuated by slick harmonies from HeeJin, HyunJin and HaSeul that give you slight goosebumps.

To round out the release, Loona has “365,” a song dedicated to Orbits, their meme filled, very excited fandom, for their support over the years. With only piano and strings, the overall mood is sentimental and sweet as all the members easily show off their vocal chops with a more even vocal distribution than normal. But what hurts the most about this song are the lyrics, especially where Loona sings the first and third lines together in the final chorus.

“Always in your heart/ I will rise with dazzling light and shine only on you/ You, you are my center/ I will collect all my days and give them to you.”

After waiting for what seemed like an eternity for this release, I can see how the wait was worth it. Loona did everything I loved about them from killer vocals to rap lines and everything in between. “#” is a great way for Loona to expand its popularity in South Korea and maybe break into the mainstream.
But no matter what anyone says, I’ll keep this release in my music rotation 24/7/”365” and enjoy these ladies finally showing me “the dark side of the moon.”