It’s amazing how thoroughly this bass-driven funk sound has infiltrated K-pop and J-pop over the past few months. I’m certainly not complaining. It’s always been a favorite style of mine. And though nobody is approaching Prince-level funk workouts, the added injection of rhythm is a welcome turn for these pop-heavy tracks.
Funk is nothing new for Johnnys groups, though their touchstones often lie in decades past, revisiting the cheesier side of the 70’s rather than opting for a more modern take. King & Prince’s Beating Hearts finds a bridge between the two. It’s their version of 2021 trends, but its effusive chorus is pure Broadway overkill.
Now, you’re not going to find me complaining about Broadway overkill. I like my pop music served with a heavy dose of bombast, especially when it comes to Johnnys groups. The guys of King & Prince are so likeable and personality-rich that they can sell this kind of silliness with ease. And, Beating Hearts is wise enough to bolster its frame with a meaty bass guitar loop. Coupled with rugged brushes of synth, this forges an exciting rhythm section. By the time brass cartwheels into the mix, it’s hard to resist the track’s spirit.
The group’s vocals aren’t always up to the challenge, often too thin to compete with the wall-to-wall production. But, when they come together for Beating Heart’s knockout chorus, the track absolutely soars. I love melodies that ascend like this, stretching to the sky with a sense of joyful abandon.
(King & Prince also challenged a trendy hip-hop style for double a-side Magic Touch. It’s fun and hooky, but some of the English lyrics are super cheesy and the sound isn’t as convincing as Beating Hearts.)