Pentagon have been teasing the music video release of their Road to Kingdom track Basquiat (바스키아) for a week now, and all the while I kept thinking ‘these visuals must be stunning because the song itself is kind of a non-starter.’ And yes, the performance video is suitably cinematic, adding image to angst in a way that makes the song pop. Truthfully, freed from the context of Kingdom, Basquiat has grown on me. But given its dramatic elements, it really should be a song that I unabashedly love.
I think the aspect that’s keeping me from fully embracing Basquiat echoes the issue I had with February’s Dr. Bebe. When it comes down to it, I would consider melody to be the single most important element in a song. Bombastic production can compensate to some degree, but it can’t fully replicate the thrill of a brilliant pop hook. Basquiat has enough bluster to power an entire album, and I love its chanted post-chorus and guitar-shredding climax. But at its center, there’s a void of melody – replaced by a structure that feels closer to anguished screaming. Dr. Bebe’s chorus took the same approach, though I think Basquiat is the stronger of the two tracks by far.
Barring that issue, I do appreciate the passion thrown into the song. It’s a little showboaty and all-over-the-place, but it’s hard not to come away from Basquiat without an impression. A different producer might have been able to tie the emotion together in a more satisfying way (like Hwang Hyun did with ONF’s brilliant New World). I received some very aggressive feedback when I called parts of Dr. Bebe a “hissy fit,” and I get that that’s not the most endearing of terms. But, that’s honestly the description I’d use for moments in Basquiat as well. I don’t quite know how Pentagon overcomes this impression, but that noisy energy keeps the otherwise solid Basquiat from becoming totally transcendent.
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