It’s been a long journey for Winner, but the group’s highly anticipated debut if finally upon us! This group was first introduced to the public through a reality program that pitted the group against another team of trainees. It was an emotional and cut throat competition, but this group of five emerged as the winners, thus earning their name, and a place among one of Korea’s top record companies.
When it came to the competition, I chose not to be a spectator. I simply wanted the music to speak for itself, and have their song be my first impression. As such, I was pleasantly surprised when Empty turned out to be an instant bias-wrecker. The competition must have done something to these guys, because this is the best debut I’ve seen since B.A.P.
While every other boy band is doing “pretty boy hip-hop” concepts, Winner emerge with a something different. Empty’s smooth beat is somber and mellow, but with just enough of a pulse to keep it from getting stale. It’s easy to find yourself lost in its groove, snapping and swaying along. It’s a solid production that’s all the more impressive considering it was composed by one of the former contestants that lost out on a place in the group. Hats off, sir!
If the beat provides the canvas, Winner takes it upon themselves to use their voices as the brush that paints this picture. They are a skilled group of vocalists and rappers, and their emotional performance helps convey the feeling of emptiness and loneliness. Mino’s gruff voiced rapping instantly stands out as the song begins, and is contrasted by Seunhoon’s more charismatic delivery. The vocalists hold their end similarly between the softer tones of Jinwoon and Taehyun, and the more powerful, husky tone provided by main vocalist Seungyoon.
Winner is a well put together team that shows talent far beyond their young age. Despite this being simply their debut, Empty is a sophisticated song that demonstrates a vast amount of potential. In Kpop, its rare to find songs that put substance before style, but Winner has bought more than enough substance to the table.
Final Score: 4/5