Having rooted for Cho Seungyoun throughout his time on Produce X 101 (and experienced the sadness everyone felt when X1 disbanded), I was really looking forward to the revival of his career as Woodz now that he had a bigger fanbase. While his previous releases under the name Woodz were laidback and relaxing tracks, his latest album, Equal, forgets about all that and screams one word: sex.
The album isn’t raunchy or uncouth or anything outwardly dirty, but the tracks do have a tone of sensuality to it, and the lyrics mainly suggest a form of pushing and pulling between both parties while holding sexual tension between the two. Artists have put out songs that touches on the topic of sensualness and sexuality before — some examples include Woosung‘s “Face”, and Baekhyun‘s “Diamond” — but these songs tend to be standalone songs, and we rarely hear songs with the same atmosphere ever again.
However, “Accident”, “Love Me Harder” and “Waikiki” continuously evoke sensuality by placing a spotlight on the underlying sexual tension that comes with two parties playing a game of push and pull. All three songs have a different story behind the tension, but one thing is consistent: the sexual tension and sensuality that comes with a game of chasing and deflecting.
“Accident” examines a toxic relationship where one party had intentionally hurt the other but played it off as an accident, and the hurt party readily accepts the supposed accident as truth. You might be thinking: what is so sexy about that – it’s literally a toxic relationship? Correct, but it’s the hurt party’s desperation and desire to please that makes the song sexy.
The lyrics suggest that the hurt party is simultaneously being pushed and pulled away by his lover, and the idea of having your prize taken away from you when you’re so close to attaining it makes the prize look even more appealing. In a sense, sadomasochistic tendencies are displayed in this song, with the hurt party being the masochist in this situation.
In the night, you see me falling
I’m dying to see you again
Oh this is what you want
Girl, I don’t want you to break me down
Yeah I know it’s an accident
Not your fault
Also, it really didn’t help that the stage for “Accident” was one the most sensuous performances I’ve ever seen. At the end of the performance, red coloured lights were used as Woodz was carried to the back of the stage and placed on the floor. The performance ends with the dancers dropping flower petals on him, almost as if to suggest that he is bound tightly to this relationship and his innocence had been tainted.
“Love Me Harder” makes this game of cat and mouse more prominent, especially when it talks about the two contrasting colours, red and blue. The song essentially focuses on how his lover makes him feel, and how their love is unique in the sense where it is not a fiery red-hot kind of love. Rather, their love is blue; it’s cool, collected, yet full of passion like every other kind of romance.
The whistle-tone and strong bass line implies the feeling of playfulness and tease in a fast-moving environment, where both parties have to constantly be on their toes. This chase only fuels their passion for each other, and it is the type of passion that is unlikely to end with just a small kiss on the lips.
On the other hand, “Waikiki” is not so much about the pulling side of the game. Instead, it attempts to push the listener into letting loose and embrace the underlying sexual tension. The song definitely sounds more relaxed, almost as if it has been suspended in a constant state of bliss. Everything about the song helps ease the stress that comes with being coy and demure, and it focuses on simply enjoying the pleasures you currently have.
Even the setting of the song enables the song to feel more relaxed, with imagery of being on a island after sundown, but you can still hear the sound of waves hitting the short before ebbing away. Despite the more laidback atmosphere, there is definitely still sexual tension, and this is evident in the song’s melody. The use of reverb together with Woodz’s high tone and Colde‘s lower register, “Waikiki” is a sexy melody for the ears.
Although these three songs definitely have sexual tension in its lyrics, it is also worth noting that two other songs, “Lift Up” and “Noid” also evoke a sensuous atmosphere musically. Lyrically, both songs talk about Woodz’s journey and struggles as an artist so far – they express his concern towards his future but also carry excitement towards opening a new chapter in his career. They aren’t exactly conventionally sexy, but a man who is confident and also vulnerable seems pretty sexy to me.
Reverb is used a lot in the first five tracks of the album, and the strong bass lines the tracks have further adds to the sensual nature of the song. Woodz also switches between his head voice and chest voice with ease, and while that showcases his duality as a singer, it also adds textures to the songs, enabling the songs to take on a more sultry vibe. This was one of the reasons why I found his voice so attractive while listening to “Lift Up” and “Noid”, because it carried an air of confidence and sultriness that made it hard for me to resist moving my hips to.
The last two tracks, “Buck” and “Memories” feel the most out of place in the album, for they do not hold the same tension that the previous five did. In fact, I think “Buck” was the hardest for me to listen to as it followed “Waikiki”. The relaxed vibe that “Waikiki” had was immediately stripped away as “Buck” came in like a sudden burst of energy, and it was quite jarring and off-putting to listen to.
Track list order aside, “Buck” is upbeat, fun, and extremely cocky in a good way, but it also serves as a warning from Woodz to himself. The lyrics remind him to live life to its fullest, and not to be swayed by fake opportunities and people. It encourages us to live out our youth to the best we can without worrying about things like money right now. I wish this song had been released a bit earlier – I will no longer be a teen in two weeks and you’re only telling me this now?! Jokes, jokes, but please remember to make the most out of your youth, kids.
Don’t go after money,
Fooled by false life and lies
We know we need more money
But time is still tick tocking
The last song, “Memories”, is like a breath of fresh air. Although I did say it was quite out of place amongst a bunch of songs that were so sexually charged, the soft ballad did allow the listener to release all the tension that was being built from the very first song. “Memories” pays homage to the two groups Woodz belonged to: Uniq and X1.
Although Uniq has not officially disbanded, it has been two years since their last release as a group. Since then, the members have gone on their own paths, the most prominent being Wang Yibo and his acting career. “Memories” reflects upon the experiences Woodz had with these two groups, promising that they will be reunited again one day.
By opening the song with the sound of the piano, the song already evokes a bittersweet feeling, as if to say that there was so much potential in both groups that was unfortunately not done any justice. The overall mood of the song is definitely sentimental and bittersweet, and Woodz’s soothing vocals really bring out that emotion.
Since the tracks before it held a lot of energy and tension, “Memories” was a good way to close the album and leave the listener wanting more. Even though the song was very much softer compared to the other tracks, it also does not take away the impact the other tracks had, making it easier for me to come back and listen to it whenever.
With each comeback Woodz has, I really don’t know what to expect anymore. With Equal, I was expecting something upbeat, but I was still hoping for there to be tracks like “Different” and “Meaningless”. What I got instead for a whole lot of sexual tension that I am definitely not complaining about. Not knowing what Woodz will release next is very exciting, for that element of surprise keeps me wanting more.
Do you agree that Woodz’s Equal had an air of sensuality and sexual tension to it, or am I just sexually deprived?