With a title like B-Day (벌떼), a song could easily devolve into cringe-worthy territory. But with the first of iKON’s double title tracks trying too hard to paint the guys as swagger-filled hip-hop legends, a little levity is welcome. And although B-Day doesn’t receive top billing on the group’s new single album, it’s by far the more interesting track.
Not counting PSY’s new releases, it’s been a very long time since we’ve heard a YG track with a tempo this high. Back in the days of Bigbang and 2NE1 ruling the charts, it seemed that we’d get a Fantastic Baby or I Am The Best more regularly. B-Day isn’t on the level of either of those classics, but it’s definitely in the same mold. The song kicks off with a blend of guitar and sweeping synths, segueing into a grimy rap verse before moving into a series of pre-choruses that lead to the bratty stomp at the song’s center. Though the structure feels somewhat messy, each segment plays expertly into the next, resulting in a track that is continually shifting sounds and tempos to exhilarating effect.
At its best, B-Day sounds like Bang Bang Bang right before that track’s disappointing drop, supplying a quickfire kick that feels more energetic than anything iKON has given us yet. The continual guitar riffs add a welcome sense of rock influence that has been missing from YG artists’ material for awhile now. They’re vital to the instrumental’s layered texture, maintaining a solid through-line within a very busy song structure. And while some of the B-Day‘s hooks feel recycled, the mix of melody and rap does a strong job showcasing every member of the group. This should have been the choice to lead the album campaign.