After multiple delays, Mnet’s latest project group, Kep1er, is ready to debut. On top of being a group that originated from Girls Planet 999, Kep1er is also home to re-debuted idols (CLC’s Choi Yujin and BustersKang Yeseo), successfully garnering the attention of many even before their big day. 

With an already strong fan base, expectations were sky-high for the nonet. However, despite their abilities already proven on Girls Planet 999 with memorable performances like “Snake” and “U+Me=LOVE”, unfortunately, “Wa Da Da” falls short on many levels. 

Right off the bat, “Wa Da Da” fails to be defined. Even after multiple viewings and looking into the lyrics, I’m still struggling to make do with what was presented. Perhaps, the most probable explanation is that Kep1er is lightly tapping onto their planet concept from Girls Planet 999. Given this, the onomatopoeic title points to Kep1er communicating with extraterrestrials as “Wa Da Da” resembles what popular culture refers to as ‘alien language’.

With a title that raises more questions than answers, one can only wish that the song itself would be redemptive. Yet, unfortunately, it is not. Though overall, “Wa Da Da” sounds energetic, catchy, and cute to some degree, its chorus feels empty with its repetitive and incantatory lyrics that cheapens the entire track.

Oh Oh Oh Woah (Hey!)
Oh Oh Woah To you WA DA DA DA
Oh Oh Oh Woah (Yeah Yeah)
Oh Oh Woah Kep 1 going WA DA DA DA

Moreover, despite its addictive pre-chorus, the chorus is random, unexpected (not in the most pleasant way), and disjointed from the rest of “Wa Da Da”, making it difficult to enjoy the song as a whole. Needless to say, the song’s saving grace is trio Dayeon, Mashiro, Xiaoting’s rap, where it properly highlights the contrast between Dayeon’s powerful rap delivery and Xiaoting’s sing-song rap style. 

As a group that has proven their individual strengths in dancing, “Wa Da Da” falls behind on its choreography. Their choreography fails to neither demonstrate the group’s synergy nor did it showcase their teamwork, power, or synchronization.

Instead, it is messy and awkward with many parts that did not fit the song. In particular, there are two parts that were especially glaring. One, while Kep1er’s key-point dance is clearly a nod to “O.O.O”, making a small O with only their hands and rotating their fingers comes off as confusing and misplaced. And two, anytime the line “Wa Da Da” appears, it looks as if they missed a beat and are rushing to finish the dance.

Eventually, what emerges out of this is a watered-down quality of dance that turns gimmicky as one that’s blatantly made for TikTok. Fortunately, not all is bad. Kep1er’s presence, facial expressions, and most importantly, gestures make up for the lacklustre choreography. Thankfully, Kep1er’s experience from being on a survival show paid off, especially for Yeseo, Xiaoting, and Hikaru, who stood out many times. 

Visually, having more sets is not always better. Throughout the MV, Kep1er are ‘transported’ into multiple different sets, from a living room, to an outdoor kids playground, to a reading room, and even to an empty room. Yet, without a clear narrative purpose, this does not elevate the viewing experience at all. Moreover, “Wa Da Da” also consists of unnatural editing and transitions. Coupled that with the random use of CG, it, unfortunately, cheapens the MV. Furthermore, one of fans’ biggest dissatisfaction lies in the skewed screen time, where despite Bahiyyih and Yujin being popular picks on the show, they were barely seen in the MV. 

If Kep1er wanted to lean into the cosmic concept that was heavily emphasized on Girls Planet 999, they could have committed to it with a better execution so as to not waste the members’ talent, especially when they’re running on borrowed time. With potential aplenty, their producers’ choice to not showcase their strengths leaves them with a confusing and messy track that mashes anything and everything into it. On top of that, the choreography did not make up for it. If there’s one thing that saves the song, it’s the members. 

While it seems like “Wa Da Da” was meant to showcase Kep1er’s versatility and potential, it ends up barely showcasing anything. At best, it looks like the producers of “Wa Da Da” are grasping at straws here, hoping “Wa Da Da” would appeal to the public. At worst, it is a subpar debut. All in all, “Wa Da Da” becomes a title track that ironically would have been better without an MV. 

(YouTube[1][2]. Images via WAKEONE and Swing Entertainment. Lyrics via Colour Coded Lyrics.)