Winner is finally back! It only took over a year and the loss of a member, but this is actually happening! Whether YGE felt they needed to come out strong after losing an idol, or if it just so happened that Winner was finally ready to make a comeback, it doesn’t really matter right now; because, either way, here is Winner with their highly anticipated music in the form of two new songs. It may not be much, but I’ll take what I can get!
When Taehyun departed from Winner, one of the big questions was how the group would change, or have to change, musically. Taehyun was billed as one of the group’s main songwriters, and has composing credits on six of Winner’s previous fifteen songs, with one of them, “Baby Baby,” being a sole credit. While Exit: E was billed as Taehyun’s child, in a way, looking through the credits reminded me of leader Seungyoon and rapper Mino‘s contributions — they each have five co-composing credits between 2014 S/S and Exit: E, most of them on the former.
After taking a back seat on Exit: E, Seungyoon is all over Fate Number For, co-composing and writing lyrics for both songs. In determining how to move forward musically, ‘Yoon’ uses the double A-side structure that YG has been favouring as of late to provide reassurance to fans in two different ways: revisiting the familiar, and something different but nonetheless positive.
And while he, and YG producers Airplay and Kang Uk-jin, stay faithful to the expected Winner’s melancholic sound, the search for renewal and the double A-side release format has also allowed Winner to expand their repertoire.
“Fool” is classic Winner in its melancholic lyrics and instrumentation. The synth hook prevents “Fool” from getting too bogged down by its morose keys, while a guitar is gradually intoduced to add body. Mino and Seunghoon drop their verses to sing-talk Seungyoon’s lyrics of self-reflection and-flagellation; their voices pair wonderfully in the bridge, as the guitar comes to the fore to puncuate the lyrics’ desparate hopefulness:
You used to dazzle and now you’re far away
Going through the scattered memories
I long for you every day
Yes I know I’m late late
Please come back as if nothing happened baby
The MV. meanwhile, focuses more on the self-blame in the lyrics, and the complicated feelings surrounding it. White is used to signify the lady they are no longer with, from the altar, to the burning dress, to the white scene of the couple in happier times. Seungyoon uses a camera to capture their time together, but our focus is firmly on the couple itself. When the members start trying to figure out what went wrong, though, is when things become more complicated. Reds, greens, blues, and oranges seep in as each member looks back on their relationship as symbolised by the camera lens, and finally seeing what caused them to lose their love: themselves.
Winner is no stranger to break up songs, but “Fool” introduces fulll-blown guilt and remorse to a discography occupied by the unapologetic “I’m Different,” the wistful “Sentimental,” and the pitiful “Color Ring.” It maintains the Winner sound of chic desolation, of a darkness that can never be fully dispelled.
That is why “Really Really” is such a departure for Winner, and a very welcome one at that. While the Reggae cheeriness of “Don’t Flirt” is undercut by aggressive insecurity and jealousy, the trop house of “Really Really” is 100% unironic, conveying a genuine joy hitherto unseen in Winner’s studio discography. It echoes the cheery tone of the goofy V Live broadcasts the group put on after becoming a four-piece, and the reassurance that joy gives makes it no surprise why “Really Really” is, for all intents and purposes, is the lead single of Fate Number For.
Winner and YGE are intent on focusing on the positives in “Really Really,” from the celebratory tone, to Winner’s wide smiles, to Jinwoo taking out most of the first verse. Jinwoo finally got lines! The female dancers were also fantastic in adding to the flirty tone of the song, as Winner happily confess their love:
The most beautiful thing in my eyes right now
Is you lady
If my feelings for you were money
I’m a billionaire
I like you
The members also gradually shed their chic image; starting out in suits and slick hair, they adopt more casual clothes and behaviour as the scenerey changes with them, from the cold and geometric stairs to the bustle of the garage. The only negative I have regarding the video, however, is to do with the garage scene itself — Winner look decidedly out of place, and the entire scene is unmistakably contrived — but apart from that, “Really Really” succeeds in introducing to a new side of Winner that I hope to see more of in the future.
While the content level is low, Winner does not disappoint in Fate Number For. “Fool” is one of the more memorable of the ballads YGE has put out recently, while “Really Really” is a welcome change of pace.
Readers, what did you think of Fate Number For? Do you prefer one song over the other, and if so, why? Share your thoughts in the comments below!