Review

Song Review: ONEUS – Black Mirror

ONEUS - Black Mirror
ONEUS’s Devil proved to be a polarizing comeback. While the album was super strong, its title track jettisoned much of the group’s usual charm for a harder blast of boy group posturing. But at the very end of No Diggity‘s music video, fans were treated to a teaser of funky bass. That flourish turned out to be the beginning of a reinvention, hinting at the buoyant, upbeat Black Mirror.

This track sees ONEUS revisiting the funk sounds of last year’s BBUSYEO over a more fleshed-out structure. Black Mirror’s video teasers hinted at Michael Jackson-esque imagery, but the song is more in keeping with modern dance music trends. Right from the start, its chugging bass guitar forms a meaty backbone. Bright synths and rhythm guitar join the fray, crafting a brisk setting that’s light on its feet and energizing. Black Mirror’s melody is at its best when leaning into this structure. Its clipped pre-chorus brings a healthy dose of drive to the track, while the second half of its chorus takes advantage of the instrumental’s disco influences.

In this way, Black Mirror is cut from similar cloth as JO1’s mighty Born to be Wild. However, there are a few choices that keep it from feeling quite as euphoric. My biggest gripe stems from the first half of its chorus. This drop into a slinky, stripped-back rhythm is becoming increasingly formulaic in K-pop, and its charms have started to wear thin. I wish that Black Mirror opted to build during this segment rather than pull back, delivering a more compelling hook than the whistle-like riff we get. Even so, the song is executed with enough panache to compensate, and before you know it we’re swept into another standout moment.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.75

30 thoughts on “Song Review: ONEUS – Black Mirror

  1. I expected MJ-esque funk pop judging from the teasers and this is the slinky minimalistic fare we’ve received from many of SM Entertainment’s dancers since past year, minus the strings.

    It’s a great song and has a wonderful pre chorus. It seems as though the song pulls itself back for a moment then breaths again.

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  2. …Yeah, i think this is oneus’s best title track yet. The stripped away first part of chorus with the “dudududu” part works wonder to get me hyped up for the second part. This is an instant add to my playlist.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really like this! I think it could be their charm which is making me turn a blind eye to any shortcomings, but this is some of the best we got this year imo.

    Seoho yet again, like in No Diggity, has some of my fav parts, he’s great.

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  4. Ah, yes, here we go again. Let us all praise how classic SHINee continue to resonate through the current generation. This one sounds like a Dream Girl or Married to the Music – style SHINee song, updated with the contemporary disco flair in vogue this year. Which is to say: its pretty good! The only negative is that it isn’t available on US itunes yet.
    Mid 8’s for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh I am here for this. Love to hear Leedo singing more and I am glad to see that their producing team realized you can slot in a rap section without killing the energy and throwing in a random splash of trap. That was the thing I was hesitantly waiting for but they pulled the song off without a hitch.
    I actually really like how they pull back for the first half of the chorus. It’s less full but it still has some interesting instrumentals and that snapping that keep it dynamic enough. The snapping was also pulled off really well throughout the song and it was a fun new sound that I don’t hear often or as prominently featured.
    I found it really interesting how the bridge was rap centered (I don’t think Oneus usually do this) and the way they lead into that making it seem like they were going into another chorus and fading out Seoho’s high note into Leedo’s rapping. Wasn’t expecting that but still enjoyed it. What’s a good song if it doesn’t subvert your expectations to a certain degree?
    The one thing I’m a bit disappointed in was the ending. Oneus usually make their final chorus much fuller and dynamic than the rest as a kind of last hurrah as the song ends and it would have been nice if they had made the final chorus a bit stronger and different. I also wish they kept the instrumental fade out that they had in the mv in the actual song-would have given some nice closure. But that’s just coming from me not wanting this song to end.
    Oneus is really cementing their spot as one of my favorite groups and I am not complaining.

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    • I really liked that effective fake-out from a Seoho high note to Leedo/Ravn raps in the bridge too! I was pleasantly surprised by it, and much as I would welcome a powerful Seoho note any day I really liked the bridge here. Really good song, not sure I noticed that the final chorus was not as ‘full’ as the others like you pointed out, myself, but I really enjoyed the vibes overall.

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  6. As soon as I heard the intro, my attention is now on them in an instance. Wow, this song is such a nice journey! From start to end, it’s more than an enjoyable experience. This is jumping to my playlist now.

    I like how it feels so dynamic, and the way they played with the song’s strength is so impressive! With these two formulas combined, it was a great result, though only for those on good hands. Glad that Oneus worked with such talent.

    Now that you mentioned JO1’s Born to be Wild, there’s no mistake in spotting in even at first listen. I was also shocked at how the arrangement feels so familiar until my mind blurted out that song. The song also had that Chungha’s Dream on You feel to me and that Dua Lipa song as well (though I don’t remember what was it). Despite the oddly familiar feeling, the song is still great.

    I’m giving this a solid 9. Rest for now, Bbusyeo, because this song will be blasting my headphones in a week.

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  7. Also it is very important to note that they added the Valkyrie rock version to this mini. I’ve been waiting for so long for them to release it to Spotify and they finally did.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ah, the funky disco trend colliding with the strip back to slinky bass trend. The latter trend is wearing thin, especially because Got7 and Charlie Puth already mastered it and no one has done it better IMO. A disco track like this should EXPLODE at the chorus, not pull back. Still, a very fun song!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh Yeah! Now this is awesome!
    Black Mirror takes everything great about ONEUS and paints it in disco-lite, dance-heavy frame. The Instrumental here is amazing! It weaves in unexpected directions, and moves with a rhythmic snap. The rap is charismatic and fun, and the chorus is smooth as hell, I really love the first-half, it’s kind of nostalgic for me (i.e. Steven Universe Songs) and that adds a sense of nuance. I also really love the performance.

    9 out of 10! Easily adding it on the strong collection of songs this month!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Off Topic: I am really looking forward to BLITZER’s debut tommorow,
      “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eF3s9R0yATI”
      It just sounds so goddamn epic!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have to admit that I went to the teaser only because “Blitzers” sounds like one of Santa’s long lost reindeer. So of course I had to check it out.
        Yes, the debut sounds promising =so far=.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. I’ll be the voice of dissent. I’m feeling grumpy today and nothing appeals to me. I would like this song better if I didn’t have to hear the graceless phrase “black mirror” repeated over and over. It grates on my nerves in ways I never expected. On the other hand I like watching them perform.

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      • I also made the mistake of turning on the captions to see if the lyrics would reveal a connection that would make sense of why they kept shouting this one phrase. Somehow a black mirror, Babylon, binary code, and a relationship are connected. Reflection in a phone screen maybe? This has already taken up more time than necessary and I’m trying to interpret a song I don’t even care about.

        Liked by 1 person

    • To be frank, I am consciously ignoring that phrase today, even though it ranks very low on my list of lyrical ranking. Second to last actually. A single word (or two) repeated over and over, because it means more then, sure.

      The current list being (for kpop in English):
      Intelligible English good lyrics that rhyme
      Intelligible English good lyrics
      Unintelligible English of any quality lyrics
      Single or double entendres
      A single lyric line that is so craptastic it is great
      Mispronounced but decent lyrics
      Cringey but campy lyrics
      Cringey cringetastic
      Oh so bland lyrics
      Really, What does that mean lyrics
      Any song that starts with a “yeah” or inarticulate grunt
      A single word said over over like that will make it mean something
      Well-pronounced lousy lyrics

      Liked by 2 people

      • I actually don’t mind inarticulate grunt so much. One of my pet peeves: over-sexualized lyrics for no absolute reasons, other than ‘concept’.

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        • I don’t mind the sex references per se, especially since back in my day every song was about sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. But those performers were older, and were writing and singing those lyrics themselves. That is why I put the single/double entredres so high. Grown up music. Its like grown up beverages, great in the right situation.

          I do mind having kids do a sexy concept when they may not be comfortable doing so, and when they don’t really have a choice because their agency has decided this is the concept they are doing. For a lot of these kids, they may have little to no experience, so it is really inappropriate to put them in that situation. Even if they seem to be OK with it on the surface, it is not OK.

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    • Same! They say the phrase a lot, and even though I like this song, It was kind of grating hearing “mirror” over and over again..

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  11. I have to say this mini album exceeded by expectations. I tried not to get too excited because I did not want to get my hopes up. Thankfully, the release was better than I thought it would be.

    Frankly, the music video paired with it enhances the song very nicely. The colors used really suited the song’s Michael Jackson funky tone.

    Overall, I prefer the concept as a whole better than last comeback. Not that I didn’t like last comeback. Their last album gave me songs like Lionheart and Incomplete. However, I feel like they did a good job with this brighter soundscape. The b-sides Polarity and Happy Birthday really were my cup of tea. Cheers to Oneus delivering a success!

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  12. The moment I heard the teasers I knew I’d love this song, and I love this song. Definitely different than what I’m used to from them, but I love it.

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  13. This is the sort of song where I watched the video incompletely – thought it was ok…will never throw it on a playlist or seek it out – but will enjoy it genuinely when they perform it on the music shows. I forget this group has a big fan base, but there isn’t too much that truly distinguishes Oneus for me…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. First thoughts: Incredible. This is so good & so fun. The rap feature is really well-placed and executed, and the transition into it is flawless! The song also features my personal kpop weakness, which is choreography with hats. Honestly, this blew me away, & I don’t think there’s any part of it I would change.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. A very solid song here by Oneus. It’s definitely one of their better songs, but Valkyrie will always have a special place in my heart. That rock version was quite amazing but i still definitely prefer the original.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I think the slinky chorus should’ve been developed just a tad bit. Or at least evolved over the course of the track. It lacks an immediate oomph thats works as a first chorus, but not consequent ones. Honestly, that beginning hook could’ve worked as a unique switch-up to take out the very sparse beginning of the chorus to build up, kind of like the rapping for the final chorus did. Something like that would’ve impressed me. That said, it’s still a really good song even despite the potentisl for something there to reslly catch my attention in a bigger way.

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  17. I’m gonna be the minority that despises the du du du part because it blueballs me so much, the second part of the chorus didn’t manage to hype me back again. Shame, the verse are super great.

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  18. My music teacher once said that pauses are the most risky but also the most powerful instruments in music.

    I feel like the dop back to minimalism and that slight breath of a pause before dududududu catches more attention than an overloaded beat drop. It also reminds me of Valkyrie so you could say while it is mainstreamed in Kpop now it’s also part of the original Oneus sound.

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