As BTOB has essentially turned into a ballad group, fans have been waiting for when they would finally come back with something more uptempo. After all, amidst the slower material on their most recent albums, the group has proven that they can still throw out a ridiculously fun, new-jack swing influenced dance track. But Pray (I’ll Be Your Man) is something completely different for them, melding their various sounds into a song that exists halfway between ballad and dance.
The track borrows heavily from the orchestral influences favored by groups like VIXX and Infinite in recent years. Its first verse builds slowly over a bed of electric guitar and symphonics. As it nears the chorus, the melody is interrupted by a rap bridge that amps up the drama, but feels slightly jarring. In fact, the rap breaks (particularly the cringey English after the first chorus) are the song’s weakest moments. I understand that the rappers need a showcase just as much as the vocalists, but songs of this nature do best when they use hip-hop sparingly. All but the last couple of rap verses feel a bit shoehorned in.
While Pray‘s melody may not instantly impress, its ornate sense of emotive drama feels well-suited to the group. In a juxtaposition with the trap-influenced beat, the chorus utilizes elements of balladry rather than a more syncopated dance structure. This results in a track that doesn’t comfortably exist in any particular genre or category, making it difficult to decode on first listen. This particular mash-up of styles probably plays to the group’s strengths, but I would love to hear them go back to the free-wheeling sound of tracks like Wow.