In a sea change year for us older K-pop fans, BTOB are one of many established boy groups whose configuration has changed due to members beginning their mandatory military enlistment. Beautiful Pain (아름답고도 아프구나) is their first single as a six-member act, minus leader Eunkwang. Minhyuk is the next member scheduled for enlistment, at which point the group will continue to change and essentially go on some form of hiatus until services have been completed.
This all makes Beautiful Pain a special moment — a farewell single, of sorts. And true to form, the song is a soaring, emotional ballad in the vein of many of BTOB’s post-2015 hits. It’s a style they excel at, even if its formula is starting to feel a bit predictable. Co-composed by member Hyunsik, Beautiful Pain definitely comes across as an authentic outlet for the group’s immense vocal power. But stacked up against similar-sounding BTOB comebacks, it doesn’t break enough new ground to stand out.
Opening with a dramatic piano-led verse, Pain eventually adds strings and guitar to its potent brew. The symphonic touches during the chorus are particularly effective, coupled with a driving beat that gives the melody added heft. But ultimately, this is just another solid ballad from the group, rather than the kind of boundary-stretching comeback that might bring in new converts. There’s something to be said for knowing your lane and delivering polished work time and time again. The vocals soar, the rap broods, and the orchestration swells. Fans will definitely be pleased, but I can’t help but wish for something new from the group as their career hits this upcoming transition period.