Just days after Seventeen’s Hoshi delivered his solo track Spider, bandmate The8 has dropped his own digital single. I guess my wish for more Seventeen solo projects is coming true! Apart from being familiar with his role in the group, most of my knowledge about The8 stems from Chinese collaboration show Chao Yin Zhan Ji. He participated in 2018, and I appreciated his dedication to his craft and desire to push musical boundaries.
Side By Side (나란히) doesn’t do anything too different from Seventeen’s work, and that’s fine. Despite having its own charms, I could see this fitting alongside tracks like Home;Run and Snap Shoot. All three take classic musical elements and meld them to modern arrangements. Side By Side brings its share of brass and jazzy undertones to its pop frame, and The8 is a great conduit for the song’s diverse soundscape.
With this said, the track is a little meandering for me. The chorus is quite strong, and pulls me back each time it repeats. In between, Side By Side unveils rhythmic shifts, catchy counting refrains and even a sprinkle of jazz piano. Some moments are more successful than others, but I applaud The8’s willingness to stretch the idea of genre. It would have been easier to simply play things straight. The guitar-fueled instrumental has a satisfying, laidback groove that embraces elements of reggae. The song is most successful when it relies on this backbone, though there’s a wonderful point during verse two where the percussion really gets going and injects a jolt of funk. Side By Side has a lot going on within its narrow frame, and that’s both an asset and a potential stumbling block.