Review

Buried Treasure: ATEEZ – Utopia

Most of the time, a k-pop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.


The past few months have given us a handful of spectacular mini albums, and ATEEZ’s One To All easily joins that list. I’ve been a fan of their work since debut, but song-for-song I think this is their strongest collection yet. Though the group’s music is largely hip-hop-based, they perform with a punk energy that makes each song pop. Add to that some dynamic vocalists (I can’t get enough of Jongho’s powerful style), and you’ve got one of K-pop’s most exciting rookies.

I have a feeling that the album’s title track, Wave, will end up as one of my favorite songs this month, but opener Utopia is even better. What starts as a tentative mid-tempo is quickly bolstered by a thumping dance beat. The fireworks kick off during the stirring pre-chorus, which elevates the song’s energy with anthemic heft and commanding vocals. But, this is only a precursor to Utopia’s mammoth hook. The instrumental ramps up here, heightening the tempo as the guys’ vocals are layered with gritty, buzz saw texture that feels like K-pop filtered through glam rock. Utopia takes a victory lap as it cools down for its final moments, adding an extra dose of lighters-in-the-air melody that acts as an excellent introduction to the rest of the album. Coming off the heels of NCT 127’s similarly-widescreen Highway To Heaven, songs like these give me hope that the K-pop industry is moving back toward an era of big melodies and surging instrumentals.

 Hooks 9
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 10
 RATING 9.25

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10 thoughts on “Buried Treasure: ATEEZ – Utopia

  1. i honestly am astonished that Utopia wasn’t also one of the songs in contention for title track. after your really positive reviews on Wave and Illusion, i finally got around to listening to much of ATEEZ’s discography today, since the Spotify playlist started with One To All so i just… kept going. and i’m stunned. i can’t believe how much amazing stuff i’ve missed out on. and this song… what a way to kick off the mini-album.

    after a really slow start to 2019 (i was getting really scared for my decade-long commitment to kpop– was i finally going to have to branch out so that i would satisfy my appetite for new, Good pop releases??), i’m regaining my hope with you now!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad to hear that you’ve given ATEEZ’s discography a chance. They don’t work in the genres I usually go for, but I’m really loving them more and more.

      Like you, I thought that this year had a painfully slow start. But now that we’re approaching the halfway mark, I think that 2019 is going to be very solid.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ATEEZ finally did it! They made me like a song in a style I don’t usually go for! There’s hope for me after all!

    I don’t know why I keep making inferences to other songs in the comments nowadays, but I guess I’m going to do it again. The intro gives me very radio-friendly pop vibes, but my faith was restored when the beat came in. Then the chorus pulses with an energy that feels almost nostalgic, in the vein of early 2010s brand of dance-pop… I’m thinking à la B2ST’s Beautiful Night. Both of these are actually sounds I don’t usually go for, but… ATEEZ makes it work? Maybe it’s the vocals? The irresistible hook? I don’t know exactly what makes it work for me, but it just does.

    It helps that this song also kind of feels like HYO’s Sober in parts, and while that song is only a generic piece of EDM (unlike this song) I actually liked it a lot.

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  3. Its a solid song. Back in the day, whole albums used to be constructed of mostly solid songs and not just a promoted single and a couple others bundled in there.

    I could see why Wave was chosen over this – to expand their sound more. This feels very much more of the same if you are an ATEEZ fan (which I am), but not by itself if you are not a fan. A good addition to their growing body of work.

    (maybe a touch over rated if I were rating it)

    I held off commenting until I checked out the ATEEZ vocal line more, but they are so new there is very little source material to listen to. Only Jongho, who is considered by many to be the main vocalist (I am not so sure), has a couple snippets. So I will hold my thoughts for a while on that.

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  4. If I remember correctly, you once mentioned that ATEEZ reminds you of BTS a few eras ago, and I agree, it’s, in my eyes, their best sound. Yet, while listening to Utopia recently, I kept thinking how ATEEZ sounded very similar to another older group but I couldn’t put my finger to it until, suddenly, bam, my answer: BAP. Utopia reminds me a lot to their 2016-2017 style, especially Honeymoon. I guess Jongho’s vocals remind me a lot to Daehyun…

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  5. Pingback: Top K-Pop Albums of 2019 (So Far) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  6. not an ATEEZ stan but one day i found this song on shuffle while listening to this “Fantastic K-Workout’ (yes that’s the actual name of the playlist by Spotify) and now they got my full attention !

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