Song Review: ATEEZ – Inception

Over the past two years, ATEEZ’s Treasure series grew into one of the most ambitious, consistent K-pop projects I can remember. And now that it’s finished, the question is: where do they go from here?

Wisely, the guys have retained their core production team as they embark on another musical series – this one entitled “Fever.” This is a perfect chance for musical experimentation, however minor it may be. Perhaps I’m putting too much pressure on them, because title track Inception feels more like a holding pattern. It’s satisfying and polished, but doesn’t come across as the grand kick-off of a new era.

Inception catches the group in moody, mysterious territory, delivering a track perched halfway between mid-tempo and dance. Its verses propel on angsty hip-hop and electronic trap production, much like most of their past singles. Yet, the instrumental never stretches itself in the way I would have hoped. There’s a moment after the first chorus where the tempo kicks up and it seems we’re about to enter a thrilling club sound. If Inception had embraced that energy from this point on, the song would have had my heart. Instead, we plunge back into an effects-heavy rap breakdown from Mingi.

Inception’s chorus is exciting and anthemic, and I love the dramatic melody. Yet, its accompanying percussion lets it down. There’s not enough emphasis in the lower end, and this blunts the refrain’s overall impact. In some ways, it’s an oddly small sound for a group who usually deliver such grandiose pomposity. Even Inception’s power note climax – the point at which most ATEEZ singles grab you by the jugular – feels cursory in a way I would never have expected. Inception is still a fine song, and leagues better than what many groups deliver, but for now I can’t help but be a bit underwhelmed. I guess that’s what happens when past glories set expectations sky high.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25

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

36 thoughts on “Song Review: ATEEZ – Inception

  1. I’m not getting how Wave is subjectively or objectively better than Inception, but to each his own I guess 🤭

    While I understand how the verses do not match the energy of the chorus, I think the chorus alone should bring the rating up to at least a 9. It’s stuck in my head now. Kind of like Oh My Girl’s The Fifth Season if you will

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Every year there are always a few songs that I fall in love with on first listen. No matter their faults, these songs become a highlight of the year and reallly connect with me. Last year, some of these songs were Side Effects, Hit, Sha La La, and Say My Name. This year, it’s been Lay Back, Answer, ON, and God’s Menu.

    Luckily I have another song to add to that list which is Ateez’s Inception. Personally, I love the song and think it’s great. It has my favorite chorus of the year and the instrumental really hit home. This just feels like a song that was tailored to my personal tastes. I’ve been playing this sone repeatedly and really happy with this comeback. Every single part of this track for me really is a full on blast except for Mingi’s horrible verse.

    Inception is not a perfect song, sometimes I don’t understand why I like it so much, but I do. I’ll keep coming back to it and while it’s not as good as Answer, its anything but a disappointment for me.

    Hooks: 9
    Production: 8
    Longevity: 9
    Bias: 10
    Rating: 10

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the review Nick! I was so excited to see what you’d think and even though most of us couldn’t agree, I still had a blast reading the review.


    • Why are you hating on mingi what has he done to you to make you hate him,he left ateez cause of anxiety problems heal problems and he needs rest,he does everything for the members cause he feels that that is his family,he has been with them even before debut,so don’t come out of no where and put hate on him or any other kpop idols,cause they work so much,so if you’re going to be hating,hate that you’re hating someone who did nothing to you or wrong he works day and night and I’m not just saying this cause he’s my bias,but because you need to learn to be respectful not only to kpop idols but to everyone,and I’m not trying to be mean but I’m just saying


    • Why are you hating on mingi what has he done to you to make you hate him,he left ateez cause of anxiety problems heal problems and he needs rest,he does everything for the members cause he feels that that is his family,he has been with them even before debut,so don’t come out of no where and put hate on him or any other kpop idols,cause they work so much,so if you’re going to be hating,hate that you’re hating someone who did nothing to you or wrong he works day and night and I’m not just saying this cause he’s my bias,but because you need to learn to be respectful not only to kpop idols but to everyone,and I’m not trying to be mean but I’m just saying


  3. This song is amazing! though , I know why you dislike it , The flaws just blunt the song’s best moments.
    Inception’s ending is one of the best we got in awhile so for now I’ll give this a 9 , I hope it will grow for you ,though


  4. Its … Its … well, it doesn’t knock it out of the park. For one, where is the cowbell? What this song needs is more cowbell! Or any cool repurposed sound effect as music.

    There are times when my old brain gets Stray Kids and Ateez confused, and this is almost one of them. I know, I know. But this doesn’t sound like Ateez 2019 sound, It sounds more upscale well done, well produced, any 3rd gen boy band now active sound.

    Somewhere in the 8’s for me.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I don’t know what to think of it yet. I like alot of it but it lacks the impact of some of the groups best work. It’s one of the few times where I have no idea at all about what I think about a song. Probably somewhere in the mid 8’s for me though.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. My boys, how you disappoint….
    This would be the best song any other boy band released this year and I would have been wowed however I have expectations for ateez and they did not meet them.
    Im sad.


  7. Weird because this is definitely a 9.5 for me (for reference, Answer and Wonderland for me are 10s)

    This isn’t a perfect song, but somehow it kinda hits me so hard in multiple ways that I keep returning back to it. Btw I was so interested to see your opinion on this song I kept refreshing the page haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We have pretty much the exact same gripe about the chorus–the backing instrumental just isn’t as forceful as it needs to be, and the lack of low-end is definitely a culprit. It feels very boy group-by-the-numbers, with the best thing about it being the first post-chorus.

    Fortunately, this is the weakest track on the album as far as I’m concerned, though precious little on the album is nearly as good as even Action to Answer as far as I’m concerned. (Take this with a grain of salt. You generally appreciate ATEEZ way more than I do.)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The problem is that this is
    definitely ATEEZ most conventional title track since their debut, and to me it’s no good because of the high expectations I had after Answer and because – after all – it’s July and not October.
    I see not every summer track must sound like Wave, but 1The9 Bad Guy doesn’t sound like Wave but it’s a bombastic summer track as well.
    Maybe it’s my fault, but I can’t
    even get the instrumental drop after the first chorus: what does it mean exactly being placed there and not anywhere else?
    Good song, ok, but more a time filler after a few months of silence than a new upgrade in their rising career.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I like it. I don’t love it. For any other boygroup I wouldn’t say that I’m disappointed but ATEEZ have always been great since their debut so naturally I expected more than a good, 2020 boygroup song.
    But I like it and it’s ok like that. However I don’t know what to think about the mini album… I think some songs are good but the others are meh.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is confusing. When I first started to listen to it I would have given it a 7 but that ending was something else and raised the rating up to a 9 but only for that final section. Maybe that means it’s an 8? I honestly don’t know. There were parts of it that I loved and parts that I hated(for some reason I can never get behind Mingi’s rapping though I liked Hongjoong’s softer rap earlier in the song). Someone earlier in the comments said it reminded them of 2013/2014 BTS and I can’t agree more. Like this doesn’t sound like Ateez. IT’s Ateez does BTS.
    I feel like this should have been a B-side that they promote on music shows like Stray Kids’ Easy. It doesn’t seem enough to be an Ateez title track. Looking at their track record it just doesn’t have that grandness or epicness to it that I’ve started to expect from them. Maybe it was just the claustrophobic feel of the music video that bled into my listening experience but who knows. I’ll have to listen to it another 10 times before I can actually form an opinion on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Idk about being a 2013/2014 BTS song considering BTS back then had strong focus on hip-hop (like N.O./Danger/etc.) and less on melody. IMO this song walks a fine line in between the older generations of kpop but has a generous splash of the 2016/2017 era of kpop in terms of the edm club vibe. This song is a solid 9 for me. I personally liked Wonderland but I can’t listen it to it on the way to work in the morning cuz its just too loud lmao but with Inception I can vibe.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Apparently fans could vote between Inception and Thanxx for the promotional title track. There was quite a bit of commotion by fans about CA in some of the promotional material for Thanxx so there was a section of the fandom that actually chose to vote for Inception instead of Thanxx to avoid any hate from non-fans about CA/controversies. I can certainly sympathize with the sentiment, but after hearing the Thanxx showcase I feel like Thanxx is a bit more title-track worthy…? Inception is still a good song though. I think your rating is the same as mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ll give it a 7 at best. Its mediocre and outdated. and whats up with the autotunes? lol they wanna be bts or something? Ateez’s oldstuff doesnt have that overuse autotunes and the MV looks like fake love with zero budget.


  15. I actually… liked the song, surprisingly. I prefer it more than Thanxx. It’s a decent song, though I can’t say that it’s one of their best; Answer is still unbeatable for me. I like the build up from the verse until the chorus though, and that melody as well.

    It has some ups, and also has some downs. That dance break after the chorus and that bridge felt out of place, and I don’t like it. At least it lasted only for a few moments, but it ruined the vibe of the song.

    I can’t wait for the buried treasure though! If there are any…


  16. the beginning had so much potential, i’m a sucker for soft openings. it lost me somewhere along the way to the chorus. it’s still a decent song, but i’m not jamming to it like waves. also it reminds me of bts blood sweat tears


  17. Best Parts: Verses, choruses, Hongjoong’s rap and Jongho’s high notes.
    Worst Part: Mingi’s rap.
    Nothing more than an 8 for me.
    Even with some flaws, this song is still good. (Like Treasure and Wonderland)


  18. Wow, im surprised by the amount of hate. This is for sure my 2020 soty. I simply adore this song. The chorus is so hard hitting as well as the dance break part after the first chorus. I love the “I’m in love” parts. Finally able to pick a bias, FINALLY. I am so happy with this song. Answer underwhelmed me, Wonderland was too loud, Illusion and Wave were boring and basic. Finally I enjoy an ateez title as much as Say my Name.


  19. I actually liked it. My favorite part was the clubby dance breakdown after the 1st chorus. It reminded me of Seventeen’s Fallin’ Flower instrumentals. I just love that oriental-sounding (?) club beats. Least fave was the trappy part from Mingi. Overall, it’s a solid, emotive song. Uyeong’s “I’m In Love” part of the chorus is beautiful as well. 9/10


    • Wow i really disagree. I thought the previews sounded a little dull and empty, but after hearing the full song and watching the video I was completely turned around. I think its a weird interesting choice, and a great song that will age really well. Answer is a full masterpiece but the more “ateez” style songs arent necessarily my favorites- wonderland felt like a retread of say my name which felt like a retread of pirate king. ( & i love ateez)
      As someone mentioned the reference is more 2015 bts than 2013.. but in my opinion few things have aged better than 2015 bts so thats not really a downside for me

      Liked by 1 person

  20. At first it just came off as a slightly better version than the average boy group trap-pop/future-EDM sound that we’ve heard so much of in the past couple years, but after a couple days I’ve realized that the chorus really stuck in my head, in fact I’ve been humming it pretty regularly ever since. Simply because of that, I’ve changed my thoughts towards it a lot and now I’d say it’s at least a top fifteen boy group release of the year (#1, of course, still being “Answer”).

    I also wish they would’ve continued the sound of the post-chorus dance break a bit further because that would’ve given it more purpose than just, well, being there, and would’ve provided an unexpected jolt of energy throughout the rest of the song unique to this style.

    Otherwise, it’s pretty solid. I don’t mind AutoTune or trap at all, and while the fact that it does incorporate so many trendy sounds is a little disappointing, it avoids feeling muddled due to the boys’ convincingly emotional vocals and some unexpected melodic flourishes. ATEEZ and their producers know how to close out a song on a high note (literally), and they demonstrate that further here.

    I really have no preference between it and “THANXX” but I do feel that it was the better choice for a title track because it appeals more to the moment while also harnessing a sense of emotion similar to BTS during their HYYH era, which will resonate with a lot of fans.

    While it’s not a complete sonic reinvention to usher in a new era, it certainly is an emotionally different style from their previous songs which were either anthemic and triumphant or intimidating, sea-shanty-like thumpers. This one’s a lot more of a slow-burn, which many fans of today seem to appreciate.


  21. I generally agree with every rating on this site, but i feel like you gave inception slightly lower than it deserves. Yes, their previous music has been phenomenal but this still is great. Idk, maybe im just really biased towards this song for some reason. Hopefully it grows on you.


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