Song Review: TOO – Count 1, 2

Between their Mnet origins and questionable recruitment for Road to Kingdom, I brushed rookie group TOO off as yet another generic, talent-show spawned trend follower. But, their stint on Kingdom showed surprising promise, and with Count 1, 2 (하나 둘 세고) they’ve completely won me over. The song is a breath of fresh air, proving that boy groups can still promote upbeat, lighthearted material in 2020.

When it comes down to it, my expectations for a good K-pop song are pretty simple. Give me a nice melodic chorus I can sing along with, and fuse it to an upbeat groove that never gets interrupted by some posturing trap rap breakdown. This straightforward structure seems like it would be easy to find, but this new generation of K-pop has been frustratingly stingy in both regards. This has only served to make good old-fashioned pop tracks stand out even more. Had Count 1, 2 been released even four years ago, I probably wouldn’t be all that excited about it. But in the context of 2020, its fresh, buoyant energy and streamlined structure feel like small revelations.

Count 1, 2 heralds its arrival with a welcome dose of sparkling synth before moving into a brisk verse that recalls everything from debut-era Astro to UP10TION’s summer classic Tonight. The percussion is sprightly, the electronic flourishes are exuberant, and the vocals have a satisfying breeziness to them. This segment climaxes in a gorgeous pre-chorus that pulls back on the instrumentation to focus on a harmonic crescendo.

From here, Count 1, 2 crashes into its beautiful chorus, which layers the guys’ falsetto for a surprisingly soulful, old-school blend. The melody is fleshed out in a way we don’t often hear anymore, bounding along a sunny arrangement that just makes you feel great. And as we enter verse two, the momentum continues. There’s a rap verse, but not the kind of energy-sucking trap nonsense every other boy group track is peddling this year. Instead, we’re treated to a nimble burst of hip-hop that rides the rhythm rather than distracting from it. Again, this shouldn’t be shocking, but the fact that Count 1, 2 never puts a foot wrong is one of the year’s most pleasant surprises.

 Hooks 9
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9

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

11 thoughts on “Song Review: TOO – Count 1, 2

  1. Did you hear their bsides on their debut album? They’re as good as this song, if not even more. Especially Take it slow and Don’t fear now..


    • Nah, their debut album didn’t impress me so much.
      ‘Don’t fear now’ misses a strong melody or a chorus in general. ‘Take It Slow’ is better, but the ‘saranghae neol’ post-chorus is really repetitive and I’m not a fan of the break-down in the 2nd verse. Then we have the typical mid-tempo song and a cover.

      However, I will give their next album a listen, when it’s out. ‘Step By Step’ sounds promising.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was listening to this song this morning, and thinking “Nick finally gets a bright concept summer boy song this summer to provide some respite from calling up bright songs from summers past”. Also, “in any other summer there would be twelve other like this, but this summer I’ll take all I can get”. Tick, and tick, right on both counts.

    I don’t like that awkward slow break starting at 3:00 lasting a full half minute. The song isn’t up on US itunes yet, and there isn’t a lyric video or music show performance yet, so I can’t tell if it is MV only – it sounds and looks like a MV only pause.

    Yep, I’ll take this one. This is only a 9 if in the fullness of summer it becomes a guilty pleasure a la TST “Wake Up” and only time will tell for that. Until then, low 8.

    Liked by 1 person

        • Mnet Executives Meeting:
          -So TOO, they just finished RTK, we should give them a come back
          -Yeah, but what would the concept be
          -A Magnolia Pt.2?
          -Wait what month is it?
          -So its summer
          -Oh yeah, then how about a summer comeback?
          -Sounds good, less acting work for the boys, we always force them to smile anyway
          -Perfect. its settled then, let’s plan for July or August
          -Great, you are now dismissed

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Too are my ults, but I didn’t find them through Magnolia, I found them through a b-side, and with that said I was anxious that the title track would be decent at most. But, they delivered, and I’m ecstatic! My bias is probably showing but the song never loses its energy on the way and keeps it all of it until the end. I’m so happy it isn’t another Magnolia.


  4. Hahaha I knew it! Listened to this last night and instantly thought “this seems right up Nick’s alley”. It’s definitely a good breezy bouncy summer song and a great step forward after Magnolia and Road to Kingdom. I was nervous with how the darker, more powerful songs were continuously rewarded in RTK, that this would motivate TOO to release a darker song. So I agree, Count 1 2 is a wonderful surprise. I’m excited to see what they continue to do moving forward 🙂


  5. buried treasure being “step by step”? would have been great if promoted as the second title track from the album, or saved for a later comeback if they really are going down the “mature” path. the funky guitar is a winner btw


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