The global K-pop fandom lost its collective mind upon the announcement that IU would be collaborating with BTS’s Suga. And true to grouchy form, I received the news with a shoulder shrug, imagining the dull hip-hop ballads that usually result from these high-profile pairings. However, Eight (에잇) sounds nothing like I’d expected, and I say that in the best way possible.
Though Suga will understandably receive the bulk of the behind-the-scenes attention, I hear more of co-producer El Capitxn’s influence in Eight. He was responsible for tracks like Sunmi’s Noir and TXT’s New Rules, and Eight carries some of that same driving energy. Right from the start, the verse is underlined by strong percussion that quickly blossoms into a brisk pop/rock beat. The instrumental gains depth during Eight’s chorus, steadily building energy rather than upending it. This is a classic, unfussy pop arrangement, but its simple potency feels like a revelation in 2020.
Suga drops by for a brief second-verse rap, which feels a little extraneous but not jarring. I’m not sure that a track like this required a rap at all, but it’s nice to hear him put his stamp on a song he helped create. Eight’s melody unfolds like an aural version of a self-help book, comforting and enveloping. Even as its lyrics suggest otherwise, the chorus surges with a sense of open-ended optimism, which is really what we all need at the moment. Nothing about the track feels novel or boundary-pushing, but that’s not what Eight is trying to do. At just under three minutes, it wafts in and out like a pleasant visitor, though I suspect its stay on the charts will be much more permanent.
Be sure to add your own rating by participating in the poll below!