Review

Song Review: ATEEZ – Deja Vu

ATEEZ - Deja VuAs they have in the past, ATEEZ held a public vote to decide which of two songs would become their newest title track. My choice was soundly beaten, proving yet again that Old Man Nick and the general K-pop fandom have diverged in taste. Thankfully, a music video for Eternal Sunshine is waiting in the wings to be released… eventually. For now, let’s turn our attention to the official, fan-voted title track Deja Vu.

To be honest, I think ATEEZ and I are at an inflection point in our relationship. I was a day-one supporter, galvanized by the strength of their Treasure series. But apart from excellent b-side Take Me Home, I’ve been ambivalent about their Fever project, and haven’t been smitten by a title track since January 2020’s Answer. I’m eager to be won back, but also skeptical of the direction the group is heading.

With this in mind, Deja Vu feels like a lateral move – neither strengthening nor detracting from their singles run. It’s groovier than most of their title tracks, laying out its plinky plonk percussion early and rarely straying from that beat. Shots of icy synth and rumbles of distortion flesh out the instrumental, but this arrangement feels in keeping with typical boy group fare.

Early in their career, ATEEZ’s title tracks thrived on two things: wonderfully bombastic pre-choruses and last-minute switch-ups that tore the songs open and sent them out on a high. These elements are sorely missed from their recent work, and I wish Deja Vu held some structural surprises. Even its inevitable Jongho power notes seem dulled. The chorus is fine, if a bit sing-song, but the whole effort seems stuck on autopilot. For a group who felt poised to change the game, it’s maddening to hear them settle – even if the resulting music is objectively decent.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8

71 thoughts on “Song Review: ATEEZ – Deja Vu

  1. This weekend, google chrome decided to do a serious update. All my bookmarks, autologins, all were wiped. There were these new features which weren’t unwelcome, but not quite like before. I retained enough of a faint memory and the cheat sheet to recreate enough of which real and which alter ego where to make my way back into my virtual life.

    This song is like that. Its like a new song, and yet it sounds like an old song that I am searching for, trying to remember. Its like deja vu, all over again.

    VIXX “Voodoo doll” came to mind, kinda sorta but not really. Ahhh, VIXX. ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOG7BexjPjM

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This song has barely passed middle of the road for me. It’s not dissapointing and infact I’m in love with the second rap verse that doesn’t rely on overly expressive delivery and rather on a slick and bouncy flow.

    However it’s not their best title track in comparison to their others. (And my buried treasure is definitely Rocky)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m just bored. It’s not very Ateez-y imo. It’s weirdly mid tempo and plodding. The second verse barely limps over the line, everyone talks about the powerhouse of Jongho but the powerhouse I look to in every Ateez track is the Hongjoong-Mingi rap. They just don’t appeal to me here at all.

    I mean if the fans wanted this then sure, I guess. I hope it satisfies them. But I love them at their most dramatic and camp like Wonderland.

    Liked by 8 people

    • It is SO frustrating when a group shows what they are able to do and then never reach that bar (the “bar” being set by Wonderland and Answer) through their title tracks ever again. Inception was basically just forgettable, Thanxx was good, Fireworks was horrible, and this is………okay. Yeah, so as Nick said in a past review, not feeling the fever.

      On a side note, I am very excited for NCT 127’s comeback even though I know I’ll be disappointed. Yan Zaman, work you charm again and tell something bad about the song so that I can keep my expectations in check and (hopefully) be pleasantly surprised by the song.

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  4. I only have two questions as of current:
    Is there any buried treasure for you in this album?
    And…did Eternal Sunshine satisfy your craving on what you want from an ATEEZ song?

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    • “Early in their career, ATEEZ’s title tracks thrived on two things: wonderfully bombastic pre-choruses and last-minute switch-ups that tore the songs open and sent them out on a high.”
      Nick, Thank you for pointing this out, Even I sorely miss these aspects on ATEEZ songs. Tracks such as The Real, I’m The One and Deja Vu really makes it sounds like ATEEZ have forgot about the exciting build-up and release their songs used to contain, I just hope that for the finale that they won’t give us some generic, attitude-infused song, really hoping for some more punch! more melody! more evolution! and waaaaaay less vocal effects!

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      • And on the topic of serious and plodding, Ciipher seem ready to do the time-honored jump from cutesy and puppy love to the dark moodies. *sigh*

        However, a mini interview with Verivery’s maknae months ago convinced me it’s not so much Western-pandering as the boys themselves wanting to be all serious and chafing under the cruel yoke of the pastel colors that’s to blame (perhaps) for the type of songs and concepts we get nowadays.

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        • Well, Ciipher’s attempt at bright was awful, so no big loss there.

          This is why boy groups need more middle ground between bright prancy overalls and dark chanting lurch-a-thons.

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          • Ouch. I felt that.

            Although I agree with the idea that the production/mixing/recording/whatever seems to have been made on the cheap, I thought the song itself was fine, as was the MV (except for the doe eyes. Please, not the doe eyes! I can’t, I really– Aaaagh…!) Also, I still don’t get what’s the issue with heavy autotune, honestly. Like, if you enjoy songs from the most plastic music industry in the whole world, worrying about the amount of processing on the vocals seems kind of incongruent.

            Aaaaand so, in short, I wouldn’t have minded more of their sunflowers and prancy overalls.

            (Do I get my grump club credentials now? 😉)

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        • As much as kpop fans have taken issue with the turn to darker concepts in recent memory, it makes sense that boys around 16-21 would rather dress up in cool streetwear while singing/rapping about how badass they are then do a bright concept

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  5. It feels like a basic boy group song honestly. Which is disappointing considering I’ve always had ATEEZ as a cut above the rest.

    Sidenote…Aespa comeback confirmed. Mini Album OTW. I’m excited as hell. Hoping YYJ gives us some more weird ass r&b breakdowns.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Little disappointed from me. I love the over dramatic, bombastic feeling Ateez gave me with Answer, Wonderland…
    Deja Vu is better than the last comeback (which I didn’t even remember name) but still, those boys have more potential than this.
    Their dance and charisma are still on point though.

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  7. Ah, I feel the same. Ateez and I aren’t quite where we used to be. ‘Deja Vu’ is fine, but it doesn’t pique my interest in the way their music used to. The mini-album is good, but nothing really excited me.

    On first listen:

    Eternal Sunshine [9,9,9,9] = 9/10
    Feeling Like I Do [8,9,8,8] = 8.25/10
    Deja Vu [8,9,8,7] = 8/10
    Rocky [9,9,8,8] = 8.5/10
    All About You [8,8,7,7] = 7.5/10
    Not Too Late [8,9,7,8] = 8/10

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I agree with the rating on this, but I appreciate it more as part of their strongest album in ages. Four of the six tracks are among their finest ever, and even the weaker ones (Deja Vu and Not Too Late) are perfectly listenable.

    ROCKY kicks ass!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I know I’ve got different tastes than a lot of folks around here, but I also found this to be a really strong EP overall. I playlisted 4/6, which included both of your picks for weaker tracks so would have excluded two that you preferred, but having something for different tastes is a good thing! ROCKY definitely seems to be emerging as an all-around favorite!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is almost really really good. it’s good because the boys are soo good.
    It’s nice to see Mingi back in the picture!

    I like the instrumental but after the insanity of Verivery’s “Trigger” I feel like it feels “almost dated”… as in a new set of exciting glitchy sounds are hopefully going to be more present in k-pop and “Deja Vu” only hints at this next level production.

    I think as the review said, “autopilot” is the perfect word for this comeback.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a bunch of grumps. I think the song is great. Really catchy and a great rap line too. Luckily I’m still at a stage where I still really enjoy kpop, I hope I never get to the point where a song like this only elicits an eye roll as I sit there like little miss muffit waiting to to be told I can like a song. The albums fantastic too.

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  11. This is solid, but i liked their Jong Kook collaboration better because it felt more like vintage Ateez. Kind of unhinged and full of energy. They are getting choked by needless tastefulness.i need an airhorn and a shout of ATEEZ! every now and again.

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  12. Oooh. I like Eternal Sunshine. Deja Vu’s not bad, but I think Eternal Sunshine is more my thing. It’s youthfulness embodied into a song but not in the same aegyo summer feels that BGs usually take.

    For some reason I was reminded of Ra Pam Pam, they kind of feel like brother tracks honestly. If you ask me, I prefer Golden Child’s take on it. Deja Vu kind of exudes that smug feeling, with the mid-tempo sound along with the performance. It’s not for me.

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    • I can definitely hear the Ra Pam Pam similarity, even if the genre is different. Golcha makes more of the material (especially during RPP’s bridge), but that might just be my bias talking.

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  13. After listening to the album previews I fully expect to dislike “Rocky” but it might be one of the one I’ve listened to the lost so far. Full of energy and a great loud chanting chorus. I really like this album so far just wish they had kept the Pirate concept as the video for Deja Vu feels very generic by Ateez standards.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I think both Deja Vu and Eternal Sunshine are good songs but as a title track I’ll pick Deja Vu anyday. It’s not just that I actually LOVE what is dubbed as “typical fourth gen dark boygroup concepts” , it’s to do with the fact that personally I like Ateez doing darker/intense concepts.

    It’s not that I dislike their brighter sounding stuff – Dreamers, Wave, Answer(it has a few intense moments too) etc etc are good but if I ever have to pick my fave Ateez songs it’s usually the likes of Wonderland, Halla Halla,Say my name, Inception etc.

    Deja Vu, to me, felt the obvious choice because Ateez’s power lies in their stage performances and truthfully I find their intense song stages far more interesting than their lighter ones.

    I really liked Deja Vu – it was clean, cool & reminded me of a mixture of Kang Daniel’s Paranoia (the music, choreo & chorus) and Dreamcatcher’s BeCause (the MV & song structure, especially the bridge).

    Everyone sounded good and Mingi was back rapping in style & Yeosang had great lines 🙂 I would say I definitely love this more than Fireworks!! Deja Vu wasn’t as intense as Fireworks, but the MV was great, better audio quality (not much auto tune destruction) and very Ateez for me. September so far was lukewarm for me, so this is a solid 9/9.5 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally understand this perspective regarding concept, and I think it played heavily in the way the voting went down.

      Personally, what I’d love to see is more middle-ground when it comes to K-pop concepts. I feel like most of my favorite songs exist somewhere between “bright” and “dark,” and there’s just so much more to play around with there. It seems like concept has become even more polarized in recent years.

      Liked by 2 people

      • True! Middle ground concepts are quite rare. My general criteria for liking a song is :

        Bgm/instrumental > Vocals = Rap = Voices > Choreo

        I find most of the times the sultry dark concepts have my kinda instrumentals and hence my preference for that genre 😂

        I like all kinds of concepts but it depends heavily on who does it. From Ateez, SKZ etc I prefer intense concepts. Oneus works with any concept while TBZ feel better with mature/elegant/dark – I’m not a fan of their happy style yet. Golcha & ONF are categories of their own; all-rounders. Verivery, I like their dark or playful creepy concepts. I realise this is quite a skewed perception of mine – fitting concepts to groups 😅 but it usually keeps my expectations in the middle when they get experimental 🙂

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  15. It gave me exo the eve/love talk vibes with the mid tempo and similar moves… not wonderland wonderful but still nice. We expect better from them and that’s why its little disappointed

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  16. Oh yeah, the song! I like it okay. Would have preferred something more fast-paced, but it should been a fun addition to the music shows. I like the EP, which is nice as their b-sides haven’t really done much for me in the past. Honestly, other than “Wonderland” and “Black Cat Nero” (“ROCKY” is now third on that list) I haven’t really loved their music until I see it performed a few times. I’m in it for the THOT line, okay? As a comment on SKZ “Red Lights” put it, I’m not sorry, I’m thirsty.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I don’t really know how to feel about this…don’t really dislike it but listening to it also doesn’t really elicit any strong feelings from me. “Autopilot” is a good word to describe the song, it’s alright but especially compared to some of their previous exciting and dramatic title tracks, it’s just a little disappointing.

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  18. Rocky is definitely the stand out for me (and is already added to the hype playlist), but there are moments of Deja Vu I’m really enjoying. That opening is so catchy. I know they’ve all improved, but I feel like the rappers have really expanded their skill set with this comeback. Mingi especially is performing in a way I haven’t heard from him before, and I think it’s going to add a lot of finesse to their performances in the future. I think after the bridge the song is at its strongest, but I still want even more from the climax.
    Eternal Sunshine was my pick until I saw the performance video. I’m glad I picked Deja Vu because it turned out to be a more cohesive song, & they own the performance aspect of it, which is a huge part of the reason Ateez is such a compelling group.
    Inception is still my favorite title track from Fever, but I haven’t decided if I prefer Part 1 or Part 3 as a whole yet. Part 3 is definitely a solid mini, and I love the sound of the preview at the end of Not Too Late.

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  19. Dejavu is definitely in top3 comebacks of this year for me if i include the bsides

    I think they are gonna switch their musical style again in the next series since fever series is over , like they did when they ended treasure series.

    oh well , fever series was great too but treasure remains my no,1 .
    probably still early to judge since its only 2 series haha, excited for the next series though!!

    Like

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