Song Review: 1THE9 – Bad Guy

Not every survival series can be a massive hit, and 2018’s Under 19 struggled to attract a wide audience. This made the fate of debuting group 1THE9 a tricky proposition. Due to the confines of the series, their contract was limited to two years. And rather than capitalize on any hype the show may have given them, their management seems content to let them sputter out with increasingly less promotional support. It’s not a particularly uplifting story, but at least it might end on a creative high.

With the way things have been going, Bad Guy could be 1THE9’s final comeback. But, it’s also their best. The song hearkens back to a more straightforward K-pop era, where tracks maintained their appeal the entire way through without needing to shoehorn in trends that break up the flow. Bad Guy has the angsty atmosphere that so many 2020 boy groups have embraced, but it’s never glum. Instead, the style is accomplished through layers of evocative synths and a big, dramatic centerpiece.

Bad Guy’s two-part chorus is surprisingly robust and covers more of the track’s running time than you might expect. This is a massive strength. It lends the song a satisfying anchor, surging with an emotive melody and big, stomping percussion. I could do without the vocal effects, which make Bad Guy sound more compressed than it should, but I’m all about the cathartic hook. It’s not particularly complex, but comes across as very expressive. The melody swerves in a few directions I wasn’t expecting, giving it welcome heft and nuance. 1THE9 may be posing as bad guys, but this is really quite good.

 Hooks 9
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75

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6 thoughts on “Song Review: 1THE9 – Bad Guy

  1. I remember hearing their debut. I thought it was ok, though the “merry-go-round” refrain was a bit of a mouthful. Then they just totally disappeared from my radar, and I wouldn’t have heard of them again until this. This is fantastic. Wow. What’s in the water that suddenly all the boy groups are good. I’m gonna have to go back and check what I missed now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. .


    I started out in the first half-minute or so thinking “basic kpop”, but it definitely improved as the song went on. Actually, it is well done, well produced. My problem, it sounds like a late 2nd gen song (eg a VIXX or an Infinite) circa 2015 with contemporary 3rd gen styling circa 2019. This should be great! But, am I in the mood to listen to a new song like this no matter how well done that sounds so last years?
    No, not today.
    Yes, its me.
    The song is fine.
    Good job.


  3. I had a lot of fun watching Under19 (at least until Eddie was part of the game, but the final episode was awesome as well) and I think this is one of the most talented boy groups ever created by a survival show. It’s definitely too sad to see them play a good title track one step away from their disbandment, but at least it’s finally happened.


  4. honestly, i’m both happy yet sad that they’re going out on such a good song. their skill levels have always been good, so it makes me happy to hear such a good song that actually uses them, but then it makes me want to hear more of them doing this sort of sound and growing it to something even better which won’t be able to happen, which is why it makes me sad :/


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