BAE173 debuted late last year with the fun funk pop of Crush On U. Like almost every boy group in K-pop history, darker, edgier waters surely lie before them. You can already feel a bit of that “maturity” poking through on new single Loved You (사랑했다). But, if the guys are going to bring the angst, this is the way to do it. Loved You is so 2013 it hurts.
When I say a song throws back to sounds from earlier K-pop generations, that statement is usually qualified with a big: “but, this is immediately followed by an EDM drop/trap breakdown/tropical flourish.” This is not the case with Loved You. If you were to tell me this song was written and recorded seven or eight years ago, I would totally believe you. Much of this falls upon producers Duble Sidekick, who were reliable hitmakers during that era. BAE173’s management was smart to bring them on board. They cut through Loved You’s more generic leanings with a sharp melody and no-nonsense arrangement. The song is relentlessly straightforward, which may sound like a criticism. But, the fact that its surging energy is allowed to build uninterrupted is quite satisfying.
If anything, I long for a more dynamic performance. Loved You so badly wants to be Crooked, but lacks the character that makes that song transcendent. Still, I’ll take a Crooked rip-off any day of the week. The instrumental’s descending synth riff forges a galvanizing centerpiece that the entire song revolves around, while a touch of strummed guitar brings us back to the ground. I’ve enjoyed Loved You more with each listen, and that’s a very good sign.