What do you do when you want to love a group but you have no faith in the agency that supports them? Such is the case with Madtown. By all accounts, they have the skills, charisma and personality to make it big. Their most visible member, Jota, has also proven himself an eminently likable variety star. But if past history is any indication, J Tune Camp (their agency) is just lousy about scheduling and song selection. I don’t think their previous boy group MBLAQ was ever allowed to live up to their potential, and I fear the same will happen to Madtown.
Take Emptiness (빈칸) for example. Beautiful song, but definitely not well-positioned for the start of summer. They had a perfectly solid uptempo track last fall that was marred by an ill-suited release date, and I feel that Emptiness is likely to suffer much the same fate. This is a shame, because the song is actually pretty strong. Yes, it sounds like every YG boy group hip-hop ballad we’ve ever heard (without actually being from YG), but it’s a tried and true formula. The song’s unobtrusive nature allows for a much needed showcase of the group’s vocalists. But at the same time, they’re never given much of a chance to hit any truly soaring notes. Instead, we get a lot of angsty crooning surrounded by mild hip-hop verses. It works for this specific genre, but it’s not exactly in-you-face addictive.
I like that Madtown get to show us a different side to their music. Taken alongside the fun uptempo tracks they’ve given us so far, it’s clear that they’re a well-rounded group capable of knocking it out of the park with stronger material. Emptiness is perfectly fine, and will likely hold up well in the long run, but the guys needed a real statement. This is more akin to a whispered “we’re here…” in a crowded field of groups who are shouting their name from the rooftops.