ATEEZ may have only made one Korean comeback this year, but they’ve been more prolific in Japan. Following May’s release of b-side-turned-single Rocky, they’re back with Paradigm. This song leads re-recorded Japanese versions of tracks from their recent The World Ep.1: Movement mini album. I’d be remiss not to mention the huge missed opportunity in not promoting the blistering Cyberpunk. Heck, even the thrilling intro track of this new Japanese album deserves attention.
As for Paradigm? Well, its title is appropriate. The track is a typical example of current ATEEZ tropes and boy group trends in general. Three years ago, ATEEZ led a vanguard of new acts ushering in a new K-pop era. This sent their popularity soaring. But, being on the cusp of a movement has its dangers. Over the past two years, their sound has been copied by so many other groups that it’s lost most of its bite. Without evolving into something new, ATEEZ run the risk of succumbing to the shadow of past glories.
Unfortunately, Paradigm is not the song to usher in this evolution. It opens with a whistle before lurching into a familiar brew of skittery percussion and electronic samples. These sounds become more prominent during the chorus, which melds a halfhearted melodic chant to a series of distorted bleeps and bloops. It’s at once overstuffed and underwhelming — a pretty apt description for many tracks in this genre. Paradigm runs through several distinct segments, shifting energy and tempo but never finding a hook you can sink your teeth into. It feels more like an obligation than a highlight and is far from the emotional grandeur ATEEZ have proven themselves capable of.