Kim Samuel has been one of the most prolific post-Produce 101 acts, blitzing his way through four title tracks (and two Japanese singles) in just ten months. He’s got the energy of youth on his side, plus the steady producing hands of Brave Sound. If I’m being completely honest, Samuel’s vocals have never been my favorite part of him as a performer, so I approached the more downbeat Teenager (틴에이저) with some skepticism. In fact, I was almost ready to write it off entirely.
Thankfully, Teenager retains much of the pop edge that has driven his discography, even if it begins to take him down a musical road I’m not overly fond of. The song’s opening verse relies heavily on its claustrophobic synth-layered atmosphere. The melody itself feels more like a series of angsty declarations than carefully constructed hooks, but I guess that’s sort of fitting for Samuel’s age.
This aesthetic continues into the chorus, which is comprised entirely of the song’s one-word title repeated in a manner that feels at once defiant and apathetic. Again… very appropriate for his age. A grimy synth refrain helps to bring some needed sense of dynamics, though Teenager would have stood out much more had it opted for electric guitar in its place. Samuel gets some help from School Rapper 2 alum Lee Rohan during the second verse, and his deeper tone is a welcome addition. The two are a good sonic match, and the track would have benefited from more interplay between them.