Thus far, rookies EPEX have delivered contrasting concepts, debuting with the boisterous hip-hop of Lock Down before segueing into the cutesy funk pop of Do 4 Me. It’s all part of their “Prelude to Anxiety” series – whatever that’s supposed to mean. At least one thing is true: new single Anthem Of Teen Spirit (학원歌) gives me anxiety.
Am I the only one whose mind immediately went to Nirvana when I read this song title? It would be so cool to see an idol group harness a Smells Like Teen Spirit energy, turning the amplifiers up and unleashing genuine catharsis. Instead, Anthem Of Teen Spirit is another banger clanger shout-a-thon. Sigh. We’re seriously doing this again? Seriously, I want to throw all these shouty boy group songs into a ring and let them tussle until they’ve gotten this tough guy schtick out of their system.
I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me rant about this particular style, so I’ll focus on the aspects I enjoy about Anthem Of Teen Spirit – few as they may be. I think the guitar is pretty cool, especially as it brings waves of distortion to the chorus. In contrast, the pre-chorus clears space to offer a nice build. And, the punchy “rum pum pum” hook injects a cool rhythmic shift that anchors the track. These elements alone make Anthem more successful than last year’s Lock Down. But, everything in between is noisy for the sake of being noisy – down to Anthem‘s cheesy “click, clack, boom” action movie tropes.
** In general, I don’t watch subtitles or pay attention to lyrics when reviewing K-pop tracks. It’s just not part of my criteria. But, it turns out the lyrics in this track are *quite* problematic. Please see the comments section for more context and discussion, and thank you to those who brought the issue to my attention.
Ugh. It’s such a gross, insensitive move from EPEX’s agency.