ATBO were the unlucky target of a rather snarky review on this blog back in July. Their debut wasn’t atrocious or unpolished. It was just a copy-and-paste of boy group tropes. Listening to many highlight medleys this week, I’ve become more convinced that original ideas are scarce in modern K-pop. A majority of songs sound nearly identical — or at least borrow from identical samples. Even more frustratingly, ATBO’s ho-hum debut album peaked with the awesome Graffiti — a breath of fresh musical air buried within a sea of sound-alike tracks. I wish the group had returned with something like that. Instead, we have Attitude.
Honestly, I’m about ready to file a plagiarism case on behalf of SM Entertainment and NCT. Attitude is a Frankenstein monster of obvious influences, and I’m surprised the agency thinks this is going to establish ATBO as a boy group worth following. The song opens with NCT 127’s Cherry Bomb before moving into NCT 127’s Kick It for its pre-chorus. I’m not going to pretend the song simply sounds like those tracks. It basically is those tracks.
And, when Attitude isn’t a direct NCT copycat, it’s an aimless joy-vacuum of half-hearted posturing and fragmented chant-singing that goes nowhere. Even its sparse dance breakdown has no perspective of its own. Pop music (and especially K-pop) has always cannibalized itself, but Attitude consumes the beast and licks all its bones clean. It’s almost impossible to review. It’s like buying one of those cheap knockoffs of designer products sold with half the letters out of order. I feel bad for the group. They deserve to make their mark on their own terms.