It’s the end of November, which means it’s time for the fifth entry in OnlyOneOf’s ambitious Underground Idol series. This series has been a highlight of 2022, delivering a diverse tapestry of genre and mood while adhering to its interconnected storyline. Cynical viewers might see the group’s past two years as one long audition to star in a BL drama. And with 2023’s upcoming Bump Up Business web series, I guess the audition proved successful. But, their work in this genre stands as a welcome oasis of emotional depth in an industry filled with “look at me, I’m so bad” hype tracks.
Following Rie’s brilliant Because, Mill takes us in a more energetic direction. As its title suggests, Beat is much more indebted to hip-hop. It takes the abrasive textures of past title tracks libidO and Skinz and fuses them to an upbeat banger. In a way, you could call this the OnlyOneOf version of a hype track, though nothing is ever that simple with this group. Mill gives an aggressive performance, his vocal texture more jarring and in-your-face than other members. This makes Beat a bit disarming on first listen, especially given how much of the track is shouted.
Fortunately, Beat is underlined by a great groove. The percussion is robust, incorporating familiar OnlyOneOf elements but offering a funkier take on their “artpop” genre. There isn’t much melody to be found, which is a shame. Mill’s singing voice has a lot of character, and it would’ve been nice to hear more of that. But, Beat is clearly cut from a different cloth than past Underground Idol offerings. Taken as a piece of the overall collection, it’s a welcome shift in intensity that sets the scene for Nine to finish the series next month.