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: July 30, 2012
I realize it can be a bit thorny to write about AOA in 2021, but Elvis is too unusual a debut to ignore.
When they were first unveiled in 2012, AOA layered concept upon concept. They were “Ace of Angels,” with literal angel wings in the music video. They were also a “transformer” group, who would at times perform as a typical dance act and other times as an instrument-playing band. When in their band iteration, they had an extra member, who was dubbed a “half-angel.” Confused yet? Apparently, you wouldn’t be alone because many of these concepts were dropped shortly into their career.
To add another layer of eccentricity onto the debut, Elvis sounded neither angelic nor band-like. It’s still as bonkers as the group’s concept, though. Like a mash-up between T-ara and Brown Eyed Girls, the brass-heavy track scoops hook after hook into a blender and hopes for a delicious result. To Elvis’s credit, this bizarre cavalcade of elements comes together quite nicely.
We rarely hear K-pop like this anymore. There’s a freewheeling, ‘anything goes’ energy here. Rap intermixes with breathless melodic refrains in unexpected ways. Symphonic flourishes lace most moments, and the whole thing is underlined by a throbbing dance beat. There are several segments that could act as the chorus, but even the verses employ the kind of tight structure and addictive melody expected of a song’s centerpiece. Lesser tracks would have built their entire focus around that catchy brass loop, but for Elvis that moment is icing on an already-sweet cake. In short, this is all killer, no filler.
Does the song hold up?
Is the song stronger or weaker than most of the artist’s title tracks?
I’d say stronger, even if it’s not quite on par with their 2014-15 peak.
Does the song represent the artist’s music going forward?
No. This oddball debut stands alone in their discography, for better or worse!