The fact that 1THE9 pulled a song like Bad Guy out of the hat just before disbandment is a surprising feat. It’s not that they guys didn’t deserve it – they’re far more talented than most give them credit for. But, the whole Under 19 project wasn’t the success that MBC was likely looking for. These kind of of groups usually end up disbanding quietly, offered musical scraps to keep the gears turning before the inevitable. Well, Bad Guy turned out to be my favorite K-pop single of July, and it’s how I’m going to remember 1THE9.
Farewell single Count (세어봐) acts more as an epilogue than a climax. It’s very much the typical goodbye track, complete with bare bones, behind the scenes music video. I’m happy it’s not some sappy ballad, though Count’s lightweight melody and unassuming production don’t amount to much. The song harnesses a warm, acoustic guitar-led instrumental with bright, clap-along percussion and sparkles of synth. It’s the kind of song that idols perform while sitting on colorful stage cubes, swaying back and forth as light sticks pulse in the audience. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the experience is usually more about sentiment than song.
To 1THE9’s credit, Count highlights some nice vocal performances. The same powerful tones that made Bad Guy’s chorus so stirring are present here, too – especially during the song’s bridge. I could do without the occasional autotune, but at least the song never devolves into trap breakdowns. In the end, this is a pleasant singalong. There are worse ways to go out.
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