Buried Treasure: TO1 – Troublemaker

TO1 - TroublemakerA K-pop act’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.

I wasn’t on the TO1 Drummin’ train when the song first came out, but it wormed its way into my head and gradually became one of my favorite songs of the year. I’m seeing a similar trajectory with Freeze Tag, though I don’t think it’ll quite match those heights. But, its accompanying mini album is TO1’s strongest collection of songs since 2020’s Running TOOgether. It feels like a natural sequel to this summer’s Why Not?? and I love how the group has found their niche and are sticking with it.

I’m naturally biased toward the old-school sounds of Retro !ove, but surprisingly the b-side that’s sticking out most is also the album’s shoutiest moment. Troublemaker opens things with a bang, going full on rock in a blustery spectacle of attitude. These ingredients aren’t always to my taste, but the song uses them well. It’s taut and focused and bursts with energy. I love the guitar-powered rap verses. They’ve got a vaguely retro feel while fitting today’s trends well.

Rather than a sung chorus, Troublemaker segues into a boisterous chant. Again, this is usually something I’d roll my eyes over, but it’s delivered very well here. Despite being short on sung melody, the structure is catchy and makes sense against the backdrop of its bombastic instrumental. It’s a lot of fun to shout along to, as any song of this genre should be!

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 9

Grade: B

3 thoughts on “Buried Treasure: TO1 – Troublemaker

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