On October 23, Winner released their third mini-album, ‘Cross‘—which consists of six tracks including the title track, ‘Soso‘. This is their second comeback this year following their previous album, ‘We’, in May. Through this album, they explore a variety of genres and express themselves with meaningful, striking, and descriptive lyrics. The album’s title, ‘Cross‘, signifies the members uniting as one in a cross while also delving into different musical directions and showing their individual colors. The members’ musical individuality is effectively revealed with Seungyoon‘s solo song, ‘Wind‘, and Seunghoon‘s one, ‘Flamenco.’ All the tracks on the album have members actively participating in the lyrics and production.

The title track, co-produced by Seungyoon, is a hip-hop/dance song perfect for the fall season. It has a darker concept compared to their previous title tracks, ‘Millions‘ and ‘Ah Yeah’, as well as their signature song, ‘Really Really‘—which have a more refreshing vibe. Starting from the intro of ‘Soso‘, the EDM beats are already strong and they build up until the chorus. The lyrics and melody there are very memorable, especially the line, “I’m not that weak weak weak weak, it’s just a breakup up up up up” in 0:43-0:52. There is a lot of repetition of words in order to emphasize that they are holding back their heartbreak by pretending that they’re feeling so-so. They are expressing that they only look okay on the outside, but they’re actually hurting on the inside. The lyrics are also very relatable, like Jinwoo‘s line, “Do I have to laugh to be OK, do I have to cry to be sad?” in 2:48-2:51. They seem to be tired of the burden, and they feel that they have to seek validation of their emotions from others. The chorus is catchy, but lukewarm compared to the rest of the song. The only lyrics in the chorus are ‘Soso‘, and that word is repeated many times along with a mellow sound to emphasize the so-so feeling. I like how the chorus alternates between Seungyoon and Mino—with Jinwoo and Seunghoon in the background—showing the members’ harmonious vocals. The song ends beautifully, with the last chorus’s gradually increasing in tempo. Overall, they were able to show their so-so feelings in lines such as “breaking up is like a drizzle“.

The B-sides I enjoyed the most are ‘OMG‘, ‘Wind‘, and ‘Don’t Be Shy.’ ‘OMG‘, my favorite track on the album, is a hip-hop/dance song that proclaims amazement and gratitude towards the person who is there for them. The chorus repeats “Oh my gosh” over and over to emphasize their love and adoration towards a person. The beat of the chorus is very catchy and pleasant to listen to. There are heart-fluttering lyrics such as Mino‘s parts in 1:44-1:47, “Your tears create waves, even your small sigh is a national disaster“, and in 1:11-1:14, “I’m speechless, this is a miracle, the 8th wonder of the world“. Yoon‘s parts in 0:33-0:36 are also very memorable when he sings “even if I met celebrities every day, they wouldn’t be more surprising than you“. My favorite parts of the song are the falsetto parts of Yoon and Jinu in 0:53-0:56 and 2:10-2:12, respectively.

Wind‘ is a solo song by Seungyoon, and it is perfect for the cold weather. Wind sound effects can be heard throughout the song—the bass in the chorus’ background adds to the strong effect of wind. He describes love as cold wind like all the arguments that he had to endure. During the cold weather, he desires for the wind to deliver a message to the person he loves. I love the fast background beats during the pre-chorus and the strong bass sounds during the parts of the chorus where there are no words. Seungyoon shows a variety of vocal tones (high and low) throughout the song, and they create the visualization of moving wind.

Don’t be Shy‘ is a chill, R&B song produced by Mino. This song is perfect for the fall season and has a lot of groove beats in the background. Jinwoo has more lines here than in any other song on the album. He starts off the song well and his parts throughout the song are memorable. He emphasizes throughout the song to “just nod your head” if you can’t reply to love confession. While Yoon‘s vocals have a higher tone than others, the members’ vocals here are chill overall.

My favorite parts are the chorus parts from Seungyoon, as his vocal parts have a higher tone, as expected from a main vocal. There are no hard-hitting vocals because this song creates a laid back, low key excited mood.

The lyrics are very descriptive, especially with Mino’s rap parts in 0:30-0:41, “I’m scared to make eye contact, you’re Medusa. I like this nervousness, are we children now? if I block my eyes and close my eyes, I can hear my heartbeat, it matches with this bass.” Mino and Seunghoon are lyrical geniuses in writing this song where they compare the person to Medusa, a Greek monster who can make people turn to stone after glancing at her.

B-sides that I found decent are ‘Dress Up‘ and ‘Flamenco.’ ‘Dress Up‘ is a dance song that gives a message to dress up and forget about life’s boredom or stress. This song is rap heavy as well. There are almost no chorus singing parts. Most chorus parts have solely background EDM parts. The beats are good and it adds to the luxurious feel of dressing up. Overall, this song creates an uplifting vibe and listening to this song can make you want to dress up and look your best. The lyrics are descriptive especially from 0:53, “Dress code Las Vegas, slightly opened shirt and necktie, champagne….” and sung with harmonizing low tone vocals from Jinwoo and Yoon.

Flamenco‘ is Seunghoon‘s solo song. It’s a Latin music mixed with hip-hop. This song can make you want to dance, and his raps are good throughout the song. There is a YG female trainee who is also involved in the song, and her voice fits well with the song as well. The lyrics are lively, especially when he sings starting from 0:57, ‘Do you hear the cheers? Do you hear the footsteps, your heartbeats faster right?’ The bass sounds before the chorus are very energetic and add to the bubbly vibe of the song. There are no singing parts in the chorus other than “Flamenco“. In the chorus, there are Latin beats with trumpet sounds that add to the confidence on the dance stage. The song title, ‘Flamenco‘, represents the traditional music genre of Southern Spain that emphasizes high spirit and pride.

The album, overall, is very solid, and it effectively shows how the members have evolved musically over time. All of them have good vocal parts in the songs, and their voices blend in well with each other. They also explore a variety of genres and have expressive lyrics to portray their emotions. As expected from the teasers, I anticipated the songs to be great. They also had individual member teasers, so it was envisioned that their individuality is shown in the album. Listening to the whole album can make you feel varied emotions. For example, ‘Soso‘ might make you feel solemn, while ‘Dress Up‘ can make you feel elegant. If you like hip-hop, R&B, Latin, or dance songs, I would strongly recommend this album. However, this album is not for those looking to listen to light-hearted songs.

Artistic Creativity: 8.5/10
Vocal Quality: 8/10
Music: 8.5/10 for title track ‘Soso’ and 9/10 for B-sides