Despite selling well, Ha Sungwoon’s comebacks never seem to garner all that much attention or discussion. But he’s been remarkably consistent, releasing a string of very strong singles. New track Sneakers (스니커즈) follows suit, harnessing a bright, optimistic melody perfectly suited for summer while managing to filter many of his influences into one consistent song.

Sungwoon’s airy vocal is right at home within this style of light, buoyant pop. Right from the start, Sneakers unveils an atmospheric sound. A soft bed of synths underpins a laidback rhythm, crafting a soundscape that’s relaxing but not boring. This climaxes in a standout chorus, which bounds along a punchy, synth-fueled frame. I love the melody here. Despite its descending structure, the refrain feels like an escalation – open and cathartic.

As great as this chorus is, what’s up with the frantic percussion underneath its second half? It’s like someone accidentally left a drum loop playing in the background and sped it to a level where it becomes continuous noise. This percussion feels incongruous with the rest of the instrumental, and should have been replaced with something less heavy-handed. Even so, Sneakers gets by on its unflagging sense of positivity. It’s an incredibly amiable track, made even more so by Sungwoon’s refreshing performance. It plays like a fizzy headrush, egged on by swoops of backing vocals and bouncy electronics. Score another point for Ha Sungwoon, who has quietly developed one of the most enduring post-Wanna One solo careers.

Hooks 9
Production 8
Longevity 9
Bias 9


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Publisher: Nick