You’d think having more and more idol groups join K-pop’s competitive landscape would result in a greater variety of sounds and perspectives. Strangely, the exact opposite has happened. Looking at the rookie debuts of the past few years, it’s becoming harder and harder to distinguish songs from one another. What makes a Just B different than an Omega X or an EPEX? Not much (barring the latter’s awful, insensitive subject matter, of course).
I blame the constant shifting of producers and production teams for this monotony. Few groups stick with one creative voice anymore. Just B’s debut succeeded largely because the agency enlisted ex-BAP member Bang Yongguk to craft the single. Sadly, follow-up Tick Tock reverted to blustery boy group mush, causing Just B to sound like everyone else. New single RE=LOAD is a much stronger song, but just as generic.
Thankfully, RE=LOAD brings Just B back to the gritty rock sounds that marked their debut. The distortion hits hard on this one, and supports a towering chorus that ranks among the group’s strongest. If this focus had been extended across the entire track, we could be talking about a real standout. Unfortunately, RE=LOAD’s verses succumb to the same fragmented shoutiness I’ve been ranting about all year. This sing-shout approach has lost all its bite, making exclamations like “we go hard like this” fairly meaningless. To me, “going hard” would mean daring to do something different – unafraid to let your own vision shine. This is just posing. And, if you’re going to pose you better have a damn good hook to soundtrack your attitude. RE=LOAD is lucky to have its megawatt chorus, which elevates it above its many, many peers.