The holidays are fast approaching, but if it’s way too soon to think about pulling out the twinkling lights or seasonal playlists, here comes a solution. If magic is what you’re looking for, enter…Woo!ah! The group’s very name, impossible to say without whooping in joy, reveals which side of the emotional divide their music tends to fall on.
A shining wonder of a group, Woo!ah! burst onto the scene in 2020 and have steadily built an intriguing discography that mirrors Red Velvet’s ability to craft songs that are drenched in layers, but just slightly askew. Their world swells with emotion so rich it makes their songs feel full to the brim. It’s an immersive and off-kilter experience, in the best possible way.
Woo!ah!’s most recent release, single album Pit-a-Pat, shows us how much artistry is involved in exploring happiness in all its pulse-racing, heart-jumping permutations. The result is an album that is not only effervescent in its joy, but genuinely inspiring in capturing how life can be.
Listening to Woo!ah! often feels like leaping from clouds, giddy with life and all that it has to offer. That feeling could not be more perfectly captured in song than in “Rollercoaster.” Pit-a-Pat‘s lead track is the literal embodiment of that soaring “upside-down, inside-out” feeling we all know so well. A dazzling mixture of the nostalgic retro synths that are so in-vogue now, coupled with bouncing melodies and inventive production that is all Woo!ah!, “Rollercoaster” is basically the chronicle of our inner dialogue during those moments when we’re so overcome with euphoria, we simply can’t think straight.
The music video opens with Wooyeon and Minseo pondering how much longer they can keep their bubbling emotions under wraps, though it’s clear that they don’t really want to. “Put it off to a later time,” Wooyeon sings as she pours her heart out through paint on a canvas. Sparkles, hearts, and disco lights arc through each shot, making the video an aesthetically-pleasing palooza. Everything associated with happiness or a party is here, but the ride to get there is far from smooth, though fun in its own right.
Minseo drives a car full steam ahead while contradicting herself within the same breath, alternately saying “maybe it’s too soon…[but] in a hurry I’ll go crazy.” Lucy‘s rap verse, in which she describes herself as somehow “hot and chill and thrill,” is refreshing in its frenzied self-awareness of this hotbed of emotion. “I don’t even know myself [right now],” she sings. The production only augments these high-octane feelings, bounding from dreamy synths to an infectious disco beat that pitters along with our pulses.
These pent-up emotions, with hearts fluttering anxiously in wait, don’t leave us in limbo for long, though. We’re carried swiftly away to “Rollercoaster’s” glimmering pre-chorus, led by Nana, who reminds us that we’re here, above all else, to have fun! She may seem outwardly calm, but on the inside she’s “having a party, sitting right next to [us].”
She and Sora lead the group to go rollerskating, and it’s at the rollerskating rink that emotions are confronted head-on, once and for all. “The lights are on [now], we can’t avoid it anymore,” Minseo sings. The point of no return has been reached, but the transition is glorious!
The chorus, so euphoric it’s impossible not to be swept away, is where the artful direction of the music video truly shines. “Hold on tight, it’s time,” Wooyeon tells us as she pulls the camera towards her in the choreography, so we literally feel like we’re buckling up to join her. Meanwhile, the slightly off-kilter, side-angle shots of the group dance, somewhat unusual in music videos, perfectly capture the gigantic emotions and ensuing off-kilteredness the track embodies. At every turn, Woo!ah! are right there with us, carrying us into the refrain, on their “rollercoaster ride.”
Many K-pop music videos are cinematic masterclasses, but “Rollercoaster” instead focuses on aligning the camerawork and art direction with the soaring emotions Woo!ah! exude–in other words, be prepared for a literal rollercoaster ride that will catapult you out of your seat. When Minseo describes using her feelings as an excuse “to look straight into [our] eyes,” the camera moves with her, so we’re directly in her line of sight. When Lucy describes her emotions going “up and down and round and round,” the camera executes a tapdance of its own that mirrors her unsteadiness.
In “Rollercoaster,” confidence is conveyed through the color palette, which seems to shift as the group’s self-assurance does. As Woo!ah! lean more fully into their euphoria during the second round of the chorus, the colors somehow take on a different quality, feeling brighter and more saturated. It’s when Wooyeon sings during the final bridge, though, that the video takes a deep breath, shrouded in vivid sparkle, as she sings about how these big brushstrokes of joy are somehow also a “deep heartfelt memory,” slowly brushing past her in the moment even as she lives it.
The sentiment in exact opposition to the heart-racing, edge-of-your-seat pace of the song, but it viscerally rings true. We’ve all had those moments when time seems to somehow stop and speed up at the same time, almost losing our sense of what is in the here and now. This zone of “momentary heaven,” as Minseo calls it, is accompanied by dazzling disco lights, and brings Woo!ah to the pinnacle of their joy, at a carnival that is bursting with splendor.
Woo!ah! challenge us to make the most of the moment, reminding us that “now is the time” to give ourselves over to our emotions. But they also remind that they’re right here with us, exulting in the thrill and uncertainty of it all. “Grab my hand [and] don’t let go,” is the chant that dashes between choruses, and the choreography, in all its twirling exuberance, also reenacts the nature of the emotional journey we’ve been on.
The single album’s second track, “Love Thing,” is lower-key and more relaxed than “Rollercoaster,” but make no mistake, this song is not for the faint of heart. Outwardly gentle with the soft, dreamy, instrumental that feels reminiscent of Yukika-style retro city pop, the lyrics are straightforward in acknowledging a heart “about to explode,” quivering in moonlight as Woo!ah! long for the love they’ve been dreaming for.
However, Woo!ah are not content to be complacent. Just as in “Rollercoaster,” they are active instigators of action, taking the plunge headfirst in declaring their feelings, in “Love Thing” Woo!ah! are equally brave, committing to telling their loves how they feel–even if they are clumsy in the process. They endearingly refer to themselves repeatedly as having “clumsy hearts,” though clumsiness seems both inevitable and irrelevant in the face of their courage. Sora’s delicate voice especially shines on this track, and by the end of the song, the group is newly self-assured, promising to unveil their true feelings.
We often have a tendency to dismiss happy pop as somehow falling short of the depth songs marinating in heavier themes achieve. Pit-a-Pat subverts this entirely, as a profound reminder that capturing and conveying happiness is not only challenging from an artistic standpoint, but has a way of confronting us with our own memories and dreams that can be genuinely transporting, as Woo!ah! themselves experience in the “Rollercoaster” music video.
Woo!ah! capture joy with such authenticity and style, aided by artful storytelling and production choices, that it’s impossible not to be moved and swept along with them. Those heart-stopping, inside-out moments that Woo!ah! describe somehow take us both outside of and into ourselves all at once, and Pit-a-Pat magically captures that effervescence for whenever you need it, to make life a little bit brighter. This is one rollercoaster ride you don’t want to end.