Album Review: Wanna One – “1X1=1 (To Be One)” (South Korea, 2017)

Since Wanna One will be joining the amazing lineup KCON in Australia has to offer. To celebrate their first ever visit to our shores, we have reviewed each track of their smash debut album, 1X1=1 (also known as To Be One).

Wanna One is an 11 member group that has taken the K-Pop world literally by a storm. The group line-up was decided through the Mnet survival show, Produce 101 Season 2 and they made their debut on 7th August 2017. Wanna One will be promoting up till 31st December 2018 under YMC Entertainment for 18 months before disbanding (just like I.O.I did).

Their debut album 1X1=1 (To Be One) has six songs, and two of them (“나야 나” and “Never”) are only found on the physical CD.

1. “To Be One” (Intro)

As the first track of the album plays, there’s a strong beginning which could symbolise the start of Wanna One’s debut. The pre-order albums alone sold over half a million copies and they have scored 15 wins on various music shows, showing how popular Wanna One is in South Korea and internationally. The lyrics – “We’re ready to show you / How we became one / We wanna pour it all out with no regrets / As if each day is our last” – could refer to how they will have to disband in 2018 so the members want to live each day with no regrets, making this a bitter sweet introduction to Wanna One.

2. 활활” (BURN IT UP)

“활활” (BURN IT UP) sounds perfect for a dance party and the chorus is a powerful but fun dance!  I can definitely imagine this as background music for either a fashion show (when Wanna One and their visuals are involved, it’s always a fashion show) or one of the most played songs at a music festival or a rave. I personally love the lyrics as they show the fight and passion Wanna One has in the music industry, “We’re young and wild / We were raised fiercely since we were born / We’re the strong type, just looking forward” proving that they’re determined to use the popularity from Produce 101 Season 2 to get to their dreams. This song would certainly burn up the dance floor as fans get grooving to the beat.

3. 에너제틱” (ENERGETIC)

Without a doubt “에너제틱” (ENERGETIC) is my favourite song on 1X1=1. With lyrics written by Hui & Wooseok (members from K-Pop group, PENTAGON who will also be performing at KCON Australia) and a catchy chorus, this song really makes you feel energetic. The tune is something you can work out or gym to, as it is upbeat and cheerful. The choreography is really creative, especially the piano formation at the beginning of the song, showing how well Wanna One has made the most of their large number of members.

4. WANNA BE (MY BABY)”

“WANNA BE (MY BABY)” has a soft spot in my heart as it has a light and happy tone. Personally, I’d love this as the main theme song and background music of my life. It’s a refreshing youthful and cheerful lyrics – “What I want is really simple / There’s only one thing I want / It’s you / Only you” shows an innocent love where the members have nothing on their minds but you. The one thing that makes me laugh (and briefly consider unstanning Wanna One) every time is the “Neol nae maeumsoge jeojang” line sung by none other than Park Jihoon. Not only that, this line has been chosen as “Best Catchphrase Of 1st Half Of 2017”! For new Wannables (fans of Wanna One), this line is Jihoon’s aegyo, which translates to “Save you in my heart”. It is adorable of course, but also brought me back to my childhood of the “Heart Unlock” from Japanese anime Shugo Chara (Is it safe to say that Jihoon is an otaku?)

5. “이 자리에” (ALWAYS) (Acoustic Version)

“이 자리에” (ALWAYS) has a beautiful, soothing piano introduction which I rarely hear in K-Pop. With any fancy, complicated beats taken away, the members’ harmonisation can be heard clearly through the violins and piano accompaniment. You can feel all the melancholic emotions through the singing, making this track really ethereal. The song gives me the vibes of I.O.I’s “소나기” (DOWNPOUR)” especially with the lines of “Even if days pass / And seasons change”. It reminds me that even when Wanna One does inevitably disband, the members promise to be by your side, always.

“이 자리에” (ALWAYS) was also performed during the Produce 101 Season 2 finale, where the top 20 members sang the song as a commemoration of their time throughout the competition.

6. “나야 나” (PICK ME) (Wanna One version)

“나야 나” (PICK ME) throws me back to the beginning of my craziness over Produce 101 Season 2, where I live streamed each episode on Friday 10PM KST, screaming and fangirling at my screen over everything occurring in that week’s whirlwind episode. The brutal changes in rankings, the sharp self-choreographed dancing, the quarrels over who would fit best for the centre are all fond memories I have while watching Produce 101 Season 2.

Produce 101 Season 2 Version (with 97 members):

7. “NEVER” (Wanna One version)

Produced by Triple H (Hyuna [4MINUTE], Hui and E’Dawn [PENTAGON]), “NEVER” was a huge hit with the trainees the moment it was introduced in Produce 101 Season 2’s Episode 9. One other member of Pentagon, Wooseok, also took part in writing the lyrics (along with Hui and E’Dawn). Not only is the dance really fun to learn, the high note from Jaehwan sends shivers down my spine literally every time I play this song.

Produce 101 Season 2 Version:
(Fun fact, everyone in this video made it into Wanna One except Jonghyun [from Nu’est] which is a shame because he is nicknamed National Leader by fans)

Review Score: 9.0 out of 10

Following the release of 1X1=1, Wanna One will be joining the line up of KCON Australia on Saturday 23rd September at Qudos Arena in Sydney. Find out what you need to do to catch them live in Australia here! There is also a fanart competition that Mwave is running so if you have a hand in drawing, submit a piece!