MBC’s Under Nineteen survival series played like a budget version of Produce 101, but it cobbled together a surprisingly strong group of guys for its winning group 1THE9. Like other shows of its ilk, the whole thing feels corporation-driven rather than artistically inspired, down to that awful group name. But, I’m excited to see where the guys go with their music — even if their career already has a set expiration date.
I was surprised when it was announced that Domino (their pre-debut song) would be composed by r&b artist Crush. He was one of the series’ mentors, but I couldn’t imagine him writing a boy band track — especially one for a group of “under nineteen” teenagers. His solo music has never really been to my taste, and Domino fits right in with that aesthetic. Yet, the song works surprisingly well in 1THE9’s hands.
Domino follows the languid approach favored by so many pop/r&b tracks of the moment. Usually that would be a big ‘no’ from me, but the track commits to this pace, rather than lurch back and forth between high and low energy. This consistency bolsters its effect and gives it unique character among its many peers in the boy group category. Its leisurely tempo actually reminds me of late-90’s pop, but the production here is up-to-date with all the latest tricks. The blend of electronics during the chorus creates a dense tapestry that gives Domino more power than I would have expected. I also appreciate the focus on melody, as sluggish as it may be. The one-note chorus is pretty lackluster, but the opening verse and pre-choruses provide some addictive hooks. Given the scattershot nature of most reality-show-spawned groups, I doubt that 1THE9 will stick with this exact sound. But, Domino works as a solid pre-release before they debut at the end of this week.