Have SF9 Perfected the Art of Reinvention with ‘Now Or Never’?
The nine-member K-pop group get dark and chic in their latest comeback, turning heads with sleek footwork and electro-house drops
There’s always that one song that serves as the turning point for an artist. It comes suddenly, hurls them into stardom and is forever hailed as That Song. For South Korean group SF9, That Song could be “Now Or Never.”
While SF9 have been in the K-pop scene since 2016, they haven’t been appreciated quite as much as they deserve. The group first made an international mark with Latin-pop flavor in 2017’s “O Sole Mio” and then again in 2018’s Grease-reminiscent pop-rock number “Mamma Mia,” ; both tracks saw the nine members take on bright colors, crisply-shot frames and catchy choruses, but something didn’t quite stick. The change of gears on “Now Or Never,” the lead single off the group’s fifth EP Sensuous, shows perhaps their label FNC Entertainment was well aware of this, too.
It’s a happy coincidence the track is named the way it is–upon its release on Tuesday, “Now Or Never” declared a massive shift in artistry for the nine-member boy group and heralded a new era; much like “Dramarama” did for Monsta X and “Shine”did for Pentagon, “Now Or Never” could be SF9’s path to critical acclaim. The comments section under the music video (which amassed over half a million views on YouTube in under 24 hours) are full of new listeners eager to learn more about the band, while older fans express their pleasant surprise.
There are callbacks to visuals from the group’s early 2017 singles, “Easy Love” and “Roar,” but “Now Or Never” dials the darkness way up–‘suave sex appeal’ seems to be the central theme, with everyone dressed to the nines in urban couture and yet managing to flash a little skin. Every frame is screensaver-worthy and drenched in neon, alternating between shots of the members playing with dice or guns and performing fragments of sleek footwork.
The real ‘wow’ moment however is the delicious, thrumming electro-house drop in the song’s chorus; there’s nothing that hints at the Calvin Harris-like turn the chorus takes from the synthpop verses, and the element of surprise makes it an instant hit. The moment is elevated by rapper Hwiyoung’s eye-contact with the camera and deep voice repeating the song’s Korean title (pronounced “jilleosseo”) while subtle but well-placed reverb and hints of funky guitar round up the entire thing. Main dancer Chani takes charge of the chorus next, adding a series of silhouetted moonwalks and popping that would have made Michael Jackson proud.
“Now Or Never” is a coming-of-age moment for SF9; it’s sexy, different and there’s an elegance running through the entire track that woos audiences new and old with ease. It’s made the world sit up and take notice of this band and created anticipation for what they will do next. A top comment on the video on YouTube declares, “Hi nice to meet you I’m obsessed” and frankly… we are inclined to agree.