BAE173 brings together X1/H&D’s Dohyun and Hangyul with seven other members for PocketDol Studio’s first boy group. It seems as if the agency has thrown a big budget and plenty of attention behind these guys, so it will be interesting to see how they fare within a stuffed K-pop market. At the very least, it’s satisfying to hear a boy group debut with a song as bright and energetic as Crush On U (반하겠어).
Crush On U reminds me of early Seventeen, though so far BAE173 lack the same level of distinctness. Still, the song has a similar freewheeling energy, fused to a funk pop backbone. This comes courtesy of production team Galactika, known for their work with ITZY. BAE173’s entire album is produced by this team, and that consistency is appreciated. Crush On U feels fresh and exciting, even if its hooks could be sharper.
The instrumental bounds with synth brass and clobbering percussion. I think the production could go harder and funkier, but there are plenty of nice touches to be found. I love the wisps of backing vocals during the first verse, and the dubstep-influenced bridge is fun. And though the melodies in the verses don’t amount to nearly enough, they climax in a punchy chorus that bodes well for BAE173’s music going forward. I also like how the track doesn’t try to do too much at once. There are some interesting musical diversions, but they’re brief and don’t interrupt the flow. This has become a rarity in modern K-pop, and I hope that BAE173 build upon this potential with subsequent releases.