K-Pop debuts can be tricky things. At times, they’re the best song a group delivers. Sometimes, they’re the only song a group delivers!
But, debuts can also be huge wtf moments in an artist’s career. In this feature, I’ll be looking back at debut songs through the prism of time, re-evaluating how well they hold up and how representative they are of an artist’s eventual singles run.
Debut Date: September 18, 2012
In some ways, Bad Boy (나쁜놈) is product of its time. In others, it still feels fresh today. I think this dynamic makes it brilliant, and has kept it vital all these years.
100% debuted as the second boy group from Top Media, though member Rockhyun had originally debuted as one half of the agency’s first pursuit: the short lived Jumper. When I consider the group’s legacy, my mind immediately goes to their vocal prowess. But although Bad Boy rattles off a few satisfying power notes, it’s much more concerned with its propulsive dance beat.
The track opens with a waterfall of distorted electronics, soon giving way to a percolating beat that is surprisingly minimalist. This empty space doesn’t last long, as Bad Boy clobbers us with insistent percussion. Its verse builds quickly, leading into a soaring vocal refrain, underlined by brushes of strings. This adds great drama to the track, which only grows during the second verse.
In this way, Bad Boy blossoms like many of my favorite K-pop tracks. It’s very Infinite-esque, actually. The track is single-minded, rarely pausing for breath. The rap is incorporated seamlessly, and the chorus is punctuated by a catchy chant that only adds to the instrumental’s driving rhythm. As with most of 100%’s work, Bad Boy is criminally underrated. And during K-pop’s strongest year, it threatened to get lost in the shuffle. But, it’s endured the test of time.
Does the song hold up?
Yes, even with some dated production choices
Is the song stronger or weaker than most of the artist’s title tracks?
When it comes to 100%, it’s in my top two.
Does the song represent the artist’s music going forward?
No. Their follow-up Want U Back has a slightly similar style, but they soon moved onto different sounds.