YG boy group Treasure are easily the most anticipated debut of 2020 so far. But, let’s be honest. With a few exceptions, YG Entertainment’s post-2017 material has been more successful at building hype than actually delivering on it. It’s hard to remain a dedicated fan of a hype machine when there’s no payoff. After well over a year of waiting, Treasure devotees are gifted with… two songs. They had better be the best damn songs you’ve ever heard!
Though YG have debuted male idol groups before, Treasure feel more mainstream than hip-hop, and that allows for new possibilities that could really expand the agency’s appeal. Unfortunately, Boy starts strong but grows more disjointed as it goes on. Its first verse has a welcome electro thump, underlining a cohesive melody that points toward exciting things to come. Then the trap beats enter, at odds with the rest of the instrumental to the point of distraction. They’re clearly thrown in to appeal to trends rather than support the rest of the track. I remember when YG used to set K-pop trends, not be beholden to them.
From here, we move into Boy’s underwhelming chorus. Rather than offer a well-developed refrain, this segment tosses out most of the instrumental’s drive and replaces it with a noisy, ill-fitting electronic loop. The guys do their best to fashion a hook over the top, though it ends up being more of a shout-a-thon than an actual melody. I adore the echoed vocal layering during this moment. I just wish it was in service to a better chorus. I mean, this is a huge, twelve-member group. Take advantage of that blend and give the guys something to chew on.
True to modern boy group song templates, Boy collapses in its second verse. Those catchy melodies from verse one are replaced with requisite hip-hop posturing over an energy-sucking trap-rap instrumental. This sense of messiness continues into the bridge, which features nice performances within an aimless structure. Even worse is the pots-and-pans percussion that soundtracks the following chorus. It’s like the producers are trying to fill the song with everything they can think of, with little regard for how it all works together. And this being YG, we get one of those tacked-on chants during Boy’s final moments. These have become so predictable that they barely register anymore.
This all might sound overly harsh, and when compared to any random boy group comeback the song isn’t half bad. But, Treasure isn’t “any random boy group,” and my disappointment is directed more at YG Entertainment itself. The agency has such raw talent to work with, along with an incredibly devoted global fan base that will rally around even pre-debut groups. But, YG itself has been creatively bankrupt for too long now, regurgitating the same songs over and over. It’s frustrating, because blockbuster debuts like this should feel fresh and exciting. However, Boy isn’t brave enough to risk any new ideas.
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