When evaluating FNC Entertainment a few days ago, I noted P1Harmony as one of the agency’s bright spots. This is largely due to their robust promotion in the States. They seem to be targeting an international audience and this work has paid off. The heavy hip-hop influence in their music feels authentic and welcoming to those unfamiliar with K-pop, but I don’t think the guys have found their big smash hit yet. After getting close with last year’s Scared, follow-up comebacks have been pretty scattershot.
New single Back Down continues to harness the group’s energetic strengths. After the rock sounds and goofy pop chorus of Doom Du Doom, this feels like a return to form. However, the K-pop boy group landscape is flush with sounds like this, making it increasingly difficult to stand out. P1Harmony’s skilled, colorful rapping elevates Back Down’s tropes. But, the song is missing the compelling hook that would set it apart from past efforts.
After a promising pre-chorus, Back Down swerves into a predictable centerpiece. The repetitive chanting is easy to get into, but hard to fall in love with. A tired “rah ta ta!” flourish adds to the song’s over-familiar woes. These exclamations feel more like placeholders than dynamic highlights. The instrumental has plenty of swagger, but too little genuine groove. There’s just not enough for P1Harmony to play around with. It’s too rote to elicit the kind of spontaneity this style of hype track demands. The song works as connective tissue within the group’s discography, but I’m still searching for that overwhelming statement of intent that cements P1harmony as vital players within this new generation of idols.