It seems fitting to kick off my ongoing “Legendary Song” feature with what I believe to be the best kpop song of all time. To be honest, for me it’s not even a contest. The Chaser goes beyond simple pop song and traverses into uncharted territory. It’s simply an audio blast from another planet — so perfectly crafted and utterly thrilling that, even after an uncountable number of listens it stills sounds like you’re making an incredible discovery each time you hear it.
When individual ingredients coalesce so flawlessly, it’s hard to point out what exactly makes the song so damn good, but one thing that I would like to note is the idea of build. The production technique of build and drop has become ubiquitous over the past couple of years. Instrumentation, vocals and beat will climb and climb until they reach peak excitement, before dropping out to a much more minimalist sound, usually bass driven. The thing about The Chaser is that the entire song is build. It’s not content with amping up your excitement only to release it and start again. Even when the song transitions to chorus, or dizzy, constantly accelerating hip-hop segments, the track’s trajectory is on the incline. It’s an almost impossible feat, keeping this sense of build throughout the song’s entire running time. I can’t think of many other songs that have managed to do it. Like the titular chaser, there are no moments to catch your breath until the resounding drum beats abruptly (and satisfyingly) end the song in determined fashion.
Of course, build up without payoff is really just a tease, and that’s where the vocals — and vocal production — come in. Infinite don’t get nearly enough attention for their vocals or unique vocal blend, but when they’re combined by a master production team like Sweetune, they can be as powerful as a full-scale choir. Main vocalists Sungkyu and Woohyun particularly shine on this track, offering one of the most dynamic, forceful performances of any kpop song. That last minute or so just completely explodes in desperation and power. Make sure to check out some of the song’s many live performances for the full effect.
Lastly, I’d be a fool not to acknowledge Sweetune’s production work on this track. The unique soundscape they arranged conjures up images of sleek, anime-influenced metropolises and edgy, fashion-fueled biker punks (the video helps with that). It draws influence from 80’s synthpop, but augments it with strong eastern elements and vocal flourishes that almost sound otherworldly. It’s one of Sweetune’s most propulsive pieces, and carries an aural maturity and gravity that much of their work lacks. I try not to throw around the word “masterpiece” all that often, but it really is the best way to describe the unbridled awesomeness that is Infinite’s The Chaser.
And that’s what makes it a Legendary Song.