Song Review: Lee Changsub (BTOB) – Surrender

Lee Changsub (BTOB) - SurrenderI did not have “BTOB’s Lee Changsuk making a comeback with a synthwave song” on my 2022 K-pop bingo card! But, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. The genre has been a huge inspiration this year, both in K-pop and global music. Eventually it’ll wear itself out the way all trends do, but for now I’m still happy to hear this familiar sound.

Surrender is billed as a special “reissue” single, which is confusing because I’m not sure what it’s reissuing beyond a trendy style. As far as I can tell, this is an original work — not a cover. I suppose it all adds to the nostalgia factor, as Changsub dips his toes into 80’s sounds. It’s refreshing to hear his voice on something beyond a boilerplate ballad. Surrender is still pretty middle-of-the-road by synthpop standards, but its groove gives it some bite.

The song’s hypnotic synths fade in right from the beginning, forging a satisfying rhythm that remains steady throughout the track. Detailed touches give Surrender character. Filtered backing vocals pop up during the verses to lend an otherworldly, robotic appeal. The two-part chorus takes its time unfurling, matching the languid pace of the song but delivering a shot of anthemic heft that gives Surrender a strong centerpiece. However, the track lacks a compelling narrative. It bops along nicely from start to finish, but doesn’t build toward any memorable climax or resolution. This makes it more of a mood piece than a knockout return. Still, I’m very willing to dive into this mood for three minutes of retro goodness.

Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9

8 thoughts on “Song Review: Lee Changsub (BTOB) – Surrender

  1. I did not have “BTOB’s Lee Changsuk making a comeback with a synthwave song” on today’s bingo card either. Not in my feed, not in my usual go to kpopmap listing.

    Song chugs along, maybe a flat 8 for me. I wish the percussion line was a bit more compelling, instead it sounds like a fix it and forget basic line throughout without any extra pum-pum-pum-tsch that a real drummer would have thrown in.


  2. Current fan theory is that Reissue is going to be like 2017’s Piece of BTOB where each member drop a single a month which would explain why it’s Reissue #0001. But who knows?
    Loved this one, since he started musicals his voice has gotten so much better and it was incredible to begin with.
    10 for bias for me because 80s synth pop is my jam and this is a brilliant example of it.
    A final note, does anyone else find the vouging dancing creepy? Kind of like a zombie stalking him? She’s super good.


  3. Well this was a pleasantly unexpected. His voice is great as usual and fits well with the synth waves. The song has the same energy from start to finish but that’s ok. It works well and I love it


  4. I like it! I’m a sucker for anything synthwave or retro; I’m glad it’s not a ballad. It’s got some groove, definitely more of a dinner/night in atmospheric song than a pop song.


  5. Nice to hear Changsub’s voice outside of ballad. Song’s pleasant, but I’m more enamored by the music video. That kind of “dingy alley with neon lights” vibe always put me back to the aesthetics of Chungking Express / Fallen Angels, and it amazes me everytime.


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