Song Review: ATBO – Monochrome (Color)

ATBO - Monochrome (Color)Using new boy group ATBO as a case study, here’s how I imagine conversations within K-pop agencies might sound:

Executive: So, we’ve decided to debut a new boy group and we’d like you to be in charge of the song.

Producer: That’s so exciting! Thank you! I’ve had this idea for a great new sound–

Executive: Whoa, hold up. Before you do anything fancy, we’re looking for an NCT track that’s a little bit Stray Kids with a chorus like The Boyz.

Producer: But, just listen to this cool synth riff-

Executive: (places hands over ears) Lalalala I can’t hear it! Shouting. We want shouting.

Producer: But if I make a song like that, won’t the group just sound like everyone else? There are already so many boy groups. How is anybody going to be able to–

Executive: Look… did I ask you to be creative? We. Need. The. Song. We need this exact song. No frilly stuff. None of your “artistic vision,” please. Just make sure there’s a lot of chanting. The kids like the chanting.

Producer: I don’t know…

Executive: We’ve already shot the jacket photos and we’ve got lyrics and a title. The video locations have been scouted. The concept is done. All we need is some kind of song to throw over the top. Can you do that?

Producer: I mean, I can

Executive: Good. We need it in four hours. Call me when it’s finished.

Seriously, though… a track like ATBO’s Monochrome (Color) does nothing to make me curious about this newly-debuted group. So far, all I’ve got is that their fans are called “BOAT,” which is… a choice.

It’s not that the music is objectively terrible. It’s standard fourth-gen boy group fare, down to the tough-guy posturing and clipped melodies. The guys seem to have a ton of potential, though it’s hard to tell within this limited framework. I hear great vocals during the pre-chorus and chorus. I only wish there was a dynamic melody and sense of idiosyncratic vision to go along with them.

 Hooks 8
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7

20 thoughts on “Song Review: ATBO – Monochrome (Color)

  1. Some truly great singing that almost makes me forget that it’s a shitty NCT Limitless/Universe pastiche with a jigger of TBZ Maverick. I don’t even like Universe that much, and yet I became instantly more fond of it. Gonna have to go listen to some 127 now for that real punch, deo ttwigo solichyeo, baby.


  2. I’ve listened to some of it and then turned off the song at 1:38. How unfortunate that K-pop has run out of musical creativity and doesn’t even want to explore something new, infuriating us by even more of this noisy garbage instead…..🤬🤬🤬🤮🤮🤮

    Nick, I remember one of your Open Discussion post talking about proposing new sounds to tackle for k-pop. If you can, email as many companies as possible and show ’em this article so that they’ll know how we’re all done with this shit. Talking of my own rating, it’s way too generous. I’d rather give it a 6.25 at best.


  3. They definitely teaserfished me, why is there so much rapping? Like really WHY is there so much rapping…it’s just too much. Then there’s parts of the song sounds like Trendz’s debut song TNT.


  4. I honestly think this song had potential to be really good if they just put in more than minimum effort. Whereas most modern boy group songs are literally painful to listen to, this has some nice parts that just aren’t really fleshed out enough, and instead are interrupted by copy-paste rap verses. It feels like so many producers come within an inch of making something great but they don’t even recognize it.


  5. It is almost like a comedy. Or perhaps a farce. I mean, even the fan name, maybe it stands for Best of All Time, because that is somehow different than Greatest of All Time.
    The part about the song I really didn’t like was after it passed the 3 minute mark when I thought the song had worn out every copycat idea it had, and then it went on for another full minute.
    I wish these junior boyz the best of luck, after getting saddled with this debut.


  6. I just had the exact same reaction when I stumbled on this mv in my youtube feed and all I thought was ” Wait, it’s NCT’s sound AGAIN?”. For the nth time, I stumble upon a 4th gen boy group mv and it’s NCT’s sound all over again, confused, I reached out to r/kpophelp to get help on how to break out of my stigma that most newer 4th gen boy groups sound the same (NCT) and song recommendations, but all I got was being downvoted to a constant zero and NCT song recommendations… People kept telling me to listen to their bsides but I already know the bsides are definitely going to venture to other concepts but my point was why were most new 4th gen groups decide to go with the uninteresting and safe NCT way with their title tracks, especially with their DEBUT one.


    • I find the K-pop reddit pages to be a weird brand of toxic positivity… and I’m generally a positive person! They’re useful for keeping up on news, though.


  7. very generic…lovely.

    If the rapping was at least impressive like P1Harmony’s ‘Siren’ then it would have been bearable but this has no standout vocals, raps or even the stage flare that ATEEZ had when they debut. I hope they improve with their next release


  8. My first impression of them was the catchy “Graffiti” randomly playing on Spotify. I’d heard of their debut and thought to myself, “Oh? A new boy group with a bright sound?” …Well, needless to say, I was quite surprised and let down by this title track. I like the (surprisingly melodic) chorus, but the rest of it is just generic boy group fluff. I’ll be keeping my eye on these guys though. I like “Grafitti,” “High Five” and “RUN”. I think they can do some cool stuff if they develop a more consistent style.


  9. Couldn’t agree more with your review and how you stated it! Can anybody explain to me why this song already has 20M views after a week, which is more than any WEi song to date…? Any of WEi’s songs are so much better? Oh year…just say this is the The Boyz junior group….That’s what Kpop has evolved into… as long as the social media is there, to heck with talent.


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