Song Review: BTOB – Outsider

BTOB - OutsiderIn an unexpected move, veteran group BTOB joined Mnet’s Kingdom competition. While most of their junior competitors opted for the hard-hitting, performance-focused style that’s come to characterize this generation of K-pop, BTOB got by on old-school appeal. Vocals were always put front and center, and their stages often felt like old-fashioned theater pieces. The guys came across very well, cementing their place in the idol world.

For me, BTOB’s post-2015 music can sometimes come across as a little fuddy duddy. I say this as someone who is circling fuddy duddyness himself, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing. They’re at their best when they utilize their strengths rather than chase trends, and new single Outsider pulls off this balancing act well. Perhaps inspired by Kingdom, the track has a theatrical, brass-heavy sound that feels tailored to a live performance. Its central riff makes for a sturdy backbone, pulsing across the entire track with a gleeful energy. The rest of the instrumental assembles around it, effective but not particularly memorable. However, I appreciate the occasional orchestral flourish. A show isn’t a show without some strings!

Melodically, Outsider is a bit repetitive. Despite a killer dance break, much of the song is stuck in the same gear. This would be fine if the production had more kick to it. Rather than break free from its lockstep arrangement, the chorus riffs upon the underlying brass loop. While these two elements have great synergy, I wish the melody broke free and delivered a few powerful jabs. Instead, Outsider’s most unpredictable moments happen during the rap verses. I think more of this freewheeling energy would have elevated the song.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 7.75

22 thoughts on “Song Review: BTOB – Outsider

  1. I like the song, the groove, the funk but really WOULD IT KILL THEM TO GET A REAL HORN?!!!! A big fat tuba would have been awesome.
    That said, the song is alright.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Pretty sure that’s a baritone sax folks, not fake brass. I used to play it back in my student band days. Of course with all the new technologies I may be wrong.
    This is so smooth and funky! They could have gone with a pop ballad like their b-sides Dreamer or Traveller, but they came back with a dance track. This is what I wanted from 2PM!
    The instrumental is awesome, the little licks of guitar, and the way the beat drops out for the dance break are really nice. Yes they could have gone off a bit more at the end, but with Eunkwang carrying the melody and Changsub providing some ad-libs, who else could have added to it? Minhyuk is a good singer but not powerful, and Peniel, in his own words “got cut (from JYP) because he can’t sing”. Let’s see what this looks like with all 6 member’s I’m sure they’ll riff a lot more.
    Just got to add Peniel’s work in the BTOB 4U subunit has been really cool. He’s at his best when he mixes Korean with his English. I’m amazed at how good he’s become.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I heard this and this is very clearly a bari sax 100%. It doesn’t have that brass sound that many would expect. Maybe going full-throated jazz would have made the Bari hit harder.


      • I heard the song and HAD TO find out if it was a Baritone Saxophone. A small googling landed me here. I used to play the Tenor Saxophone and Baritone Saxophone and this sounded so much like the Baritone Saxophone! Such a surprise to hear it as a main in a kpop song. A reddit post has comments that it’s the bass saxophone though. I’m not too sure which it is though.


    • I still think its a fake horn or sax, as they are getting pretty good these days. It sounds so keyed to me and then copy-paste for the rest.

      Here are two recent ones with real sax, both towards the end. Interesting how the sax player has to really wail to show she or he is real.

      ONF “Fly me to the moon” 2:53

      Ateez “Take Me Home” 3:17

      I listen to this guy’s channel a lot during the day, as his demeanor is so soothing. And also funny. Guy Michelmore’s youtube channel. On this one, he adds horns around 22:30. ‘


  3. I still haven’t gotten into their back catalogue, but I found this EP and the last one to be pleasantly chill counterpoints to the noisy stuff I usually prefer. And the guys do have really lovely vocals, and although vocals aren’t what got me into kpop in the first place, it’s still appreciated. Glad Minhyuk seems to avoided long-term effects from his bout with Covid. Onto the R&B and Nighttime playlists they go!


  4. I like the album way more than the title track. Agreed with everything said here, they should’ve made it just less repetitive and added that final punch cause it’s lacking a lot.

    They look great tho lol.


  5. I really like BTOB’s vocals and I liked the black and white aesthetic here! My favourite was Minhyuk’s rap scene with a very Sin-City vibe 😂. Tbh my favorite BTOB song so far is their hard hitting debut – Insane.

    So I keep hoping they release something with that kinda passionate powerful vibe – The intro of Show & Prove actually got my hopes up during Kingdom but then it went to the musical style.

    Outsider gave MonstaX Gambler vibes but not as hard as Gambler, it was still pretty cool! 🙂


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