Review

Song Review: ONF – New World


What to do with ONF’s New World (신세계)? I’m all about classification, and this song doesn’t really fit within K-pop’s usual categories. I wouldn’t normally review a song that’s been given a performance video rather than an actual music video. Yet, I don’t think you can really call New World a b-side either, since it’s not promoted alongside anything else and is labeled as a comeback (within the context of variety series Road to Kingdom, at least). But, the track is too awesome to relegate to Kingdom recaps.

Remember a couple of years ago, when the massive success of biopic Bohemian Rhapsody caused a sudden surge of interest in Queen’s music? K-pop idols were performing covers upon covers, yet none of that grandiose influence filtered down to their actual music. I say this because New World has serious Bohemian Rhapsody energy. It’s not as structurally complex (or as long), but it manages to pack a cavalcade of moments within its four minutes.

Produced by the amazing Hwang Hyun, New World takes all of ONF’s previous singles and throws them in a blender, adding a generous dose of theatricality on top. After a brief atmospheric introduction, the track plunges into a cascade of synths and thumping percussion. This verse moves at breakneck speed, punctuated by a filtered choir of voices. The pacing slows a bit for New World’s grandiose pre-chorus, but the energy continues to generate.

Like We Must Love and Why, New World’s chorus pulls the tempo back to half time, and I was not pleased with this on my first listen. I’ve since been won over, and that’s mostly thanks to the gorgeous vocal layering and sense of musical catharsis that powers the melody.

After another standout verse and chorus, World briefly dips into a soft, symphonic interlude that sets things up brilliantly for the its knockout of a climax. In addition to some truly Queen-esque guitars, this grand finale allows the guys to deliver goosebump-inducing power notes. Few songs have built to such a satisfying endpoint this year, and that sense of storytelling makes New World incredibly compelling. I’d put it in the same family as TVXQ’s classic Rising Sun. It’s not as good (I mean, what is?), but its sheer ambition is electrifying.

**Now, here’s the real question? Do I count this as a title track for my monthly round-up and year-end countdown? What do you think, readers?

 Hooks 9
 Production 10
 Longevity 9
 Bias 10
 RATING 9.5

Be sure to add your own rating by participating in the poll below!

19 thoughts on “Song Review: ONF – New World

  1. Incredible song, Incredible performance, just amazing.
    Given how much it’s being promoted, yes! It should qualify as a title track for the monthly and year end roundups!

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  2. I was unhappy with RtK for a couple of reasons in the beginning, but I have to thank it for introducing me to new awesome groups (as I was only really following Oneus before the show). Especially, ONF and Golcha! New World is such a great song and it’s getting promoted a lot, so it should be counted!

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  3. Count it as a full-fledged title track. If only because, at this rate, your year-end ranking is going to need all the padding it can get. (Plus, the song’s awesome!)

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    • We should count this as title track. It have MV (Performance one but, still.), it gets promoted, and there’s no title tracks that got promoted above this track anyway.

      I adore it’s last verses that followed after the whimsy, fairy tale-lite bridge. It’s just a straight up great rpg theme where the party charges up everything for one final attack. Either this one or dreamcatcher’s “Scream” will probably end up as my top song in 2020 so far.

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  4. Earlier today I rambled on about how sad and angry I was. But Golcha and ONF really gave me hope, even if my bias group stumbled, at least my favorite rookies are killing it!
    And, yes, this should be a title track. Also, with how beautiful the cinematography is in ONF’s MV’s, it would be a crime to not give this beauty a music video.

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  5. HALA HALA by ATEEZ is a great example of why this song should not be included in year end lists. It was promoted through teasers prior to ATEEZ’s 2nd EP release. It had an MV worthy performance video. It was performed multiple times on M Countdown. And at the end of the day, it was not a title track and it was not a single. Also, the only reason LION by (G)I-DLE was reviewed and eligible for year-end lists was because it became the title track for an EP and received separate promotion on shows like M Countdown. A track like Guerilla by OH MY GIRL never got the same treatment. If ONF decide to promote this as a single or attach it to an EP as a title track, then it should be eligible for year-end lists. The reason I feel strongly about this is because the promotional cycle and media around a song is the only real distinction between title tracks and B sides. It’s a massive factor in how we all feel and think about K pop and the legacy of groups. I mean, you did just write an entire article on the “imperial phase” of K pop groups that was limited to title tracks. We remember the tracks, but part of the appeal of K pop is remembering and being attached to the artifice of stuff like MVs, music shows and promotional cycles. However,I will say that I’m glad this song has boosted your morale.

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  6. I am sorry June! You are the first month to give us two 9+ title tracks (New World got a review so and it’s getting promoted properly , and since it featured in Road To Kingdom and gave them popularity , yes.) So…….. I guess you are pretty awesome!
    New World , though, It came out 2 weeks ago , I already like it better than complete and I guess If you ever do that awesome “Legendary Song Inauguration Ceremony”
    Thing , This would be here. With Labrynth and Haven are currently are also in the Top Spot , One , Drama and Answer are also fighting for Top Spot and Boy , CLoud 9 is also growing and Pantomime is a great grower too! With Wannabe And Scream and Also one of my Top 10 Tracks of the year!
    And It’s sad that we all have to leave those amazing b-sides behind!
    We could’ve had one of the best Top 10 Titles it they were the Title tracks!
    At Least , New World is getting promoted as a Title but I hope Haven gets promoted to a Title track!

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  7. All I know is that this song and GC’s Lucid Dream will be carrying me through the rest of this year (hopefully along with Taemin’s next month, god willing).

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  8. It’s your list, go ahead and count this as a title track for your monthly round-up. This song is too good, jinjja. I would rate this as 9.

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  9. I say yes. It is more than a performance video as it isn’t just in the practice room: they bothered to rent a fancy roof top veranda to film it, and a drone, and did a few clever edits and cool shots here and there. The nerd in me was following the shadow pattern. I bet this is a south-facing veranda very slightly not square to an east-west axis.

    This song is the sonic evolution of “We Must Love”, a touch of influence from Stray Kids / Ateez with that isolated sung line right before the chorus (at 1:00 and 2:13). The sonic landscape for the chorus is so close to their body of work, so it still sounds like ONF.

    I think it is very very good, but it still fits within the expectations for the construction of a contemporary kpop song. Am I hearing all sorts of innovation? No, not for me. I need more than 4 lines of alt rhythm starting at 2:45 to call it innovative. Any influences are less construction, more instrument choices. Sure there is the electric guitar going wah wah all over the final chorus (this time with feeling!) but for me that is decorative effect, just like what the horn adds in “Complete” after each chorus. The chord changes aren’t that more ambitious from their previous songs (On/Off, Fly me to the Moon). For me, their most ambitious song is “Moscow, Moscow”.

    What I hear for over half of the song a perfection of the ONF sound, the heavy synth chords in the chorus that in other hands would become noisy but here adds that awesome stadium filling reverb. Whoever is choosing and performing the synth in ONF is doing fantastic work. It is a group that has a classic sound and is sticking with it.

    That said, within its space, this song is extremely well done, and one of the best this year.

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  10. It’s their first song to reach the top 200 on gaon. I’m so glad that it happened with a song like this instead of something like OMG’s nonstop. You should totally treat the song as a title track. It’s such a clear standout from this year of duds.

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  11. Unless and until they make it a b-side like Verivery are doing with Beautiful-x, yes, this is a title track.

    I’m thinking you’re being slightly hyperbolic about it though. Same as with Beautiful-x and unlike the “trendier” Checkmate and Come Back Home, as good as it is I still can’t remember any part of this song when I’m finished listening to it and when I am listening I don’t think it’s as striking as either Complete or We Must Love or even, for whatever reason, Moscow Moscow.

    Actually, I think it’s this *fingers almost touching* close to being the usual 2020 fare, and certainly not on the same rank as, I think, much more inventive songs as Rising Sun or SHINee’s Everybody, to mention some of your legendary songs. I’d even argue that, except for the vocal and the last 40 seconds, it’s nothing unexpected.

    In my opinion it’s an impressive song in the context of 2020, but that’s about it.

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