Review

Buried Treasure: Astro – Footprint

Astro - FootprintA K-pop group’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.


My reaction to Astro’s After Midnight strongly correlates to my thoughts on the album as a whole. It’s fun and upbeat without many highs and lows. No song compels me in a dramatic way, but the overall listening experience is really pleasant. A few of the album’s tracks have some great moments (that soaring chorus in Waterfall, the funky new jack swing hook of Don’t Worry) but Footprint (발자국) was my instant standout.

I’m a sucker for this tropical summer sound. Footprint’s percolating synths take me back to 2017, delivering a bright texture that instantly raises my mood. But, Footprint enlists some 2021 trends as well – most notably during its effects-heavy chorus. I’m not always one for vocal effects, but I love the use of vocoder here. Much of Footprint feels like a refreshing dive into a pool, and this segment brings an underwater sensation. The first time through, it acts as prelude to a fun, frothy beat drop. But, the arrangement supporting this melody soon becomes more robust.

The energy here recalls my favorite Astro album: 2017’s Dream Part.01. For that alone, Footprint gets kudos. It’s a bit too simplistic to compete against classics like Dreams Come True or You Smile, but I appreciate how the group has blended their newfound maturity with the upbeat bubblegum pop that first shot them to stardom. Footprint strikes a nice balance, easily earning its place on my 2021 summer playlist.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 9
 RATING 8.5


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9 thoughts on “Buried Treasure: Astro – Footprint

  1. This is a solid pop song. I agree – the vocoder effect is cool and appropriate. This is the kind of case where it should be used.

    And it is fun without being boyish and sailor suits. As Nick writes, it successfully evolves their classic youthful sound and look to being older and mature while still looking and sounding like themselves. I made the mistake this morning of clicking on the ONF summer teaser highlight medley, and they are wearing frickin boy scout uniforms, which may as well be pastel sailor suits. ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vm09ljTl2w (Unless they are going Wes Anderson Moonrise Kingdom concept, in which case, fine.)

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  2. i’ve actually noticed that the most common rating on the site is an 8.5, with the hooks and bias at 8, and production and longevity at 9. just an observation

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    • I guess that makes sense, since that equates to a solid “B” given my rating system. That’s where I think most K-pop title tracks and strong b-sides fall.

      How different it would be if I reviewed every single song! I’m thinking about my “battle of the b-sides” feature, with ratings mostly in the 7’s.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a basic “selection bias” in statistics.

      Nick doesn’t review every promoted release but most. For the mediocre or mediocre minus, its probably a 50-50 chance of not reviewing it, so there are 7’s or mid 6’s but not a lot. If it is truly horrible he usually doesn’t waste his time unless there is just something about it that he wants to comment on. Ahem, Lay “Sheep”. I haven’t done any math but I would guess the average of the reviewed mostly all promoted releases would be mid to high 7’s.

      But for the B-sides, he takes his pick of the best off the album, so it is going to higher than the promoted single, sometimes much higher, the “Should have been the single” songs. Otherwise if it is equal or lesser, he usually skips the b-side review. So that skews the global average up.

      And then there are the special features, the review every song by ____. these take serious commitment and time! So you know because he is committed, the bias score will be high, and longevity and production score usually roughly track bias score, and all those will skew the global average up even further.

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  3. This released before the main track and I thought it really felt like a title track despite how much After Midnight works too. It’s got the feeling of summer all over it. To be fair, basically all of the album embodies summer so yeah.

    I don’t know if the melody is their strongest, but the chorus definitely could use a better chant than the oddly low energy “all the time.” Changing them would increase the rating even further, but as it is it still made a great song.

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  4. Why oh why would you review Astro’s One And Only? It’s NOT a B side: it was a single, and only written and produced as a thank you to and encouragement for fans. It was unfair to compare it to other very dissimilar songs. We love it, it’s precious to us, so please keep your boots off it. Sometimes I wonder what’s wrong with you…

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