I would not be surprised to see ATEEZ completely blow up over the next few years. They give me similar vibes to early BTS, both in sound and ambition. For their third mini album, the guys hosted a public vote between songs Illusion and Wave. Both would receive music videos, but only one would be the primary title track. Though each song sounded promising in its own way, I was firmly on team Wave during this process. From what ATEEZ had shared, it sounding more melodically and sonically rich than its competitor. Upon hearing the full track, I’m happy to say that my instincts were correct.
One of the things that impresses me most about ATEEZ is their ability to take musical approaches I usually hate and twist them into something incredibly galvanizing. Wave has two obstacles working against it. First, it’s a tropical pop track — a genre that has long since worn out its welcome within the Korean music scene. Second, its core hook is anchored by a noisy “hakuna matata” exclamation that would sound obnoxiously try-hard in the hands of so many other groups. Yet, Wave manages to convert both of these pitfalls into assets through the sheer force of ATEEZ’s impressive performance.
Wave’s opening verse is pure bliss, featuring a gorgeous, airy delivery that peaks into moments of unexpected falsetto. It’s a shame that this melodic turn doesn’t pop up again, but its brevity makes it all the more impactful. After a brief hip-hop focus, we move into a commanding pre-chorus that layers the guys’ vocals for an anthemic burst of stadium-ready pop. Wave’s main hook may appear gimmicky at first, but it’s bolstered by compelling vocal arrangement. ATEEZ thrive on vibe and attitude, but their vocalists are no joke. This is especially evident during the song’s stellar climax, where a perfectly-timed power note ushers in a rush of additional melody that ends things on a high. Wave could have easily become yet another dime-a-dozen tropical track, but it pulses with an unexpected power that elevates every second of its addictive brew.