I know that the very idea of SuperM has more than its share of detractors, but right now they’re one of the few projects consistently delivering the style of big-budget, classic K-pop that forged the history of SM Entertainment. I hadn’t listened to Tiger Inside until today, but I’d seen quite a bit of hype around its live performances – especially compared to the song’s more bombastic, dorkier brother 100. I will die on the hill of defending 100, though I know I’m in the minority. Tiger Inside feels more typical of modern SM. It’s kind of an EXO-meets-NCT situation (which is basically what SuperM is, anyway). As such, it loses some of the super-group’s novelty factor, but remains immensely appealing.
I mean, there’s no way a song featuring this combination of talents could be unappealing, right? Tiger Inside thrives on many of SM’s post-2011 musical tropes. It’s all herky-jerky percussion and mystical splashes of synth. This time around, the production is clearly more influenced by current trends, but the instrumental still manages a few experimental jolts to make the track feel fresh. I love the contrast between the higher-pitched, icy electronics and the grittier, bass-driven beat, as well as all the distorted elements that are used to support the guys’ voices.
Melodically, Tiger Inside is more fleshed-out than 100, even if its hooks don’t hit with quite the same goofy-awesome energy. Its chorus and verses follow roughly the same template, unveiling a taunting melody that traces the nuances of the instrumental. The chorus has a similar, militant appeal as past EXO hits like Monster, though the histrionics of the vocal arrangement are toned-down a bit. I think a greater sense of melodic diversity might have led to a more dynamic product, but there are some great vocal flourishes sprinkled throughout. This culminates in a satisfying moment of interplay during Tiger Inside‘s bridge, which segues into a rap-driven breakdown before climaxing in a Baekhyun-focused power note. It’s a nice high-point for a track that largely surrenders to its groove.