Song Review: EPEX – Anthem Of Teen Spirit

Epex - Anthem Of Teen SpiritThus 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.

Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7

26 thoughts on “Song Review: EPEX – Anthem Of Teen Spirit

    • May I recommend the movie “Ghost World” which sends up several genres of music. They tried to do more parodies than wound up on the soundtrack, but it proved difficult because they had to tow the line between being cringey enough to be a quiet nerd joke and too cringey that the viewer wanted the scene to be over and go away. It’s hard to parody some contemporary pop, because it already is a parody of itself.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. They had two killer tracks (Lock Down and Sling Shot) on the first album, a meh second album but it had the sparkling Do 4 Me, and this is just so very disappointing. I’ll try the album, but their b-sides almost never do it for me. UGH.


  2. This one meets expectations.

    Its the aural equivalent of those creepy face overlays where its an amalgamation of each face and every face which becomes all faces all at the same time.

    Someday I think I want to see a mashup of all this type of song, just to prove the point that they hit all the same marks, at the same measure count, and the same Shouty McShoutface effect. Actually I don’t, because I can already imagine it in my mind’s eye.
    I was singing the smash kick boom pow Bruce Lee new dance new thang over this one quite easily.

    skrrt skrrt ping ping

    Liked by 1 person

  3. no but did u see that they had “i see them burning raw/crystal night is coming” as ACTUAL LYRICS IN THIS SONG paired with soldier outfits with what appears to be n*zi symbolism bc…..jfc 😬😬😬😬 so blatantly antisemitic its so sad. fuck you c9

    Liked by 7 people

  4. hi nick, first of all i don’t think this song nor their concept is the idols’ doing as they literally include a line referencing jewish genocide as if that’s an aesthetic and whomever the writer was felt that was somehow ok. the mv producers felt it was ok to have a guy who just turned 17 naked from the waist up and covered in bruises. people everywhere are boycotting this for many reasons and instead of jumping to just talk about the song quality you should do research first and maybe make a note that these idols are being pushed to do this so the bits you include about putting them (“them” being underaged idols forced to do high adrenaline beastly shouting concepts) in a ring to get their anger out. i know this is a music review blog but i’m a jewish frequenter of this page and this article feels a little too “wrong time wrong place” and i think discussions about music quality and overall ethics and humanity can coexist.

    Liked by 5 people

    • i havent seen the mv but holy crap, this is genuinely disrespectful. im not jewish but i understand if they’re offended by this. jewish suffering shouldn’t be used as an aesthetic

      Liked by 4 people

    • Gross. I had no idea.

      I never watch K-pop mvs with subtitles so the lyrics (beyond “click click boom,” obviously…) passed me by as usual. In fact, if an mv doesn’t catch my interest in the first minute or so I kind of tune it out and just listen to the song on its own while I’m writing a review. Obviously, in this case that omits some awful subtext (or blatant connotations). I’m glad people are speaking up about it. Hopefully they speak with their pocketbook as well.

      In this case, even if the track wasn’t problematic I don’t like it enough as an actual song to support it. And yeah, it’s definitely not the fault of the guys themselves. I try my best to separate a song from the artist, since agencies play such a heavy hand in all aspects of their career.

      I’ll make a note in the review to check the comments section for more context.

      Liked by 2 people

      • You can hide a song in Spotify so it will not show up in your recs or any playlist you access, but only in the mobile version. Still, since I listen mostly on my iPad, I went ahead and did this and disliked the video on YouTube.


  5. OMG, this comeback is so awful…when I saw that name, I thought it would be something totally different, with some rock vibes, and they release this……feels like a big step back comparing to Do 4 Me. Here’s my rating:

    Hooks: 6
    Production: 6
    Longevity: 7
    Bias: 5

    Overall, I can confirm that my disappointment is IMMEASUREABLE.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. …..I was almost gonna skip this review…. I’m not sure if I’m glad I didn’t or not…..

    Song…. Few good moments but ultimately not my thing.

    I’m really disgusted at this. As a black kpop fan I have to face cultural appropriation all the time… This is on a whole another level. I can only imagine how shitty it must feel to be Jewish and experience this act of insensitivity.

    Korea really needs to get with the times. Yes, they’re their own country but that doesn’t make it okay to act like the rest of the world doesn’t exist while simultaneously ripping aesthetics (visually and sonically) from other cultures willy nilly. Seriously, stuff like this shouldn’t be happening

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kids in military-esque uniforms shouting “Crystal Night is coming.” Lovely. Well that’s a hard pass for me. It’s also unlovely on every level.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes but the material they’re referencing that is “1984” is an allegory for nazi germany. The origins of this concept had been problematic but made it to fit their “teenage stress” concept. I think the lyrics and costume change are just the bare minimum.

      Liked by 1 person

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