Over the past few years, Golden Child have displayed a versatility in both concept and sound. This can be a dangerous road to travel, and oftentimes results in a hodgepodge discography that feels more intent on placating trends than developing a sense of artistic continuity. Yet, Golden Child have managed to forge an identity of their own regardless of genre. I think much of this comes down to performance, and that’s an asset that new single Burn It (안아줄게) highlights particularly well.
The song sees Golden Child collaborating with a new set of producers and tackling a reggaetón sound that strays far from last year’s Pump It Up. But, Burn It is a real showstopper, buoyed by intense vocals and a palpable sense of emotion. Nearly the entire track is driven by robust melody, which is exceedingly rare in today’s boy group landscape. This culminates in a whopper of a two-part chorus. Main vocals Joochan and Y take the first part, and deliver a transcendent performance. Their voices are produced perfectly – crisp and passionate and absolutely magnetic. The melody weaves in unexpected directions, tugging on the track as if it’s about to pull free and escape the confines of its percussive instrumental. How much I’ve missed these vocal-led choruses in K-pop!
This segues into a dramatic post-chorus chant, peppered with rhythmic repetitions of the song’s titular phrase. It comes together beautifully, providing welcome catharsis after Joochan and Y’s refrain leaves us tense and anxious. But the rest of Burn It is no slouch either. Its verses are rich and melodic, taking advantage of the group’s deep bench of vocalists. And unlike so many K-pop title tracks of this era, the song’s rap verse is placed for maximum impact. It ushers us emotionally toward Burn It’s finale rather than upending its second verse.
Like many of the group’s recent singles, my only complaint is that Burn It is just too short. It’s oddly structured, with an opening verse and pre-chorus that take up one-third of the track. This leaves little room for anything else. We only hear the chorus twice, and I can’t help but wish for an extended climax. But if my only gripe is that I want more song, I think we’re in a pretty good place!
**Also… that music video? I can’t remember the last time a K-pop video actually made me cry. Whether they meant it or not, the story felt like the perfect allegory for our global pandemic era.