7-member outfit AJAX is DSP Media‘s offering to “The Great Boyband Surge of ’12”, and following “One 4 U” and “Hot Game,” they are back with their first mini-album and title track “2MYX.” Pronounced “to my ex,” this latest very 90s release from the boy group is gaining a lot of attention for being a response to SNSD‘s “Run Devil Run.”

Now, many rookie groups use the names of their well-established and famous industry seniors to draw more attention to themselves; DSP Media has already been engaging in this practice by having members of their current flagship group, Kara, feature in material produced for A-JAX–but this seemingly left-field referencing of SNSD may have confused many at first. As it turns out, there is a precedent for this: Swedish producer Kalle Engström, who had previously written songs for the likes of the Backstreet Boys (which explains the sound of “2MYX”), co-wrote “Run Devil Run” and is one of the composers for “2MYX.” This (admittedly tenuous) link seemed to have provided the inspiration for songwriters Cha Yong-un and Yi Sin-seong to fashion the lyrics as a man’s response to his (now ex-) girlfriend’s accusations of cheating.

From “Run Devil Run:”

You better run, run, run, run, run.
Even if you beg me not to leave, I don’t care anymore.
(Hey) I’ll come back even better
and I’ll get revenge. Don’t forget it.

No fun, no manners.
You, devil, devil, you, you.

From “2MYX:”

I’d better run runaway
Thank you sweet my lady
I’ll be expecting a hotter you
So in turn, please stop caring about me
I also forgot someone like you

I’m no fun and I have no manners
I’m Devil I’m Devil You’ve gotta let it go!

For most of the song, this response could be seen as a proclamation of innocence from the guy, who instead accuses the girl of being overly suspicious of him. She accuses him of “[Changing] one letter (one letter)/Of all the girls’ names/In your cellphone” so that they look like male names, he retorts that “All the girls in my phone/They’re all girls that you made happen.” The guy sounds as though he’s been set up by the girl (“My playboy image is something you gave me“), or is a victim of her paranoid nature, and he just can’t be bothered arguing with her, wanting out of this relationship: “If I explain, it’ll just sound like excuses/Your obsessive nature, now good bye.

A-JAX’s response song has makes this a he-said-she-said exchange, which isn’t all bad: it is great to see an effort made to reference something in a meaningful way, rather than simply boasting about being better than a certain established group or adding an entirely out-of-place sound bite of a well-known human rights activist at the beginning of a song. However, this is where my praise of these efforts made end.

As generous as the interpretation of the song given in the previous paragraph is, there are lines which cast doubt on whether the guy is the victim of misunderstanding, or is in fact the playboy the girl says he is. The lyrics themselves are rather ambiguous, but, though willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, these lines…

While I played with you
(Now I’m telling you, you were completely deceived)

…manage to make the lyrics a lot less ambiguous. Songs condoning cheating are bad enough, with “2MYX” adding to the disturbingly potential trend of boy bands singing about cheating (Teen Top and B1A4 come to mind), but to express oneself in such an immature way? “2MYX” only exists in the context of “Run Devil Run,” which itself is an abstract work–that is to say, these are just songs, but I fail to see how the petulance and childishness dripping from these lyrics can in any way be seen in a positive light. Listening to a bunch of philanderers (as implied by the song, with no link made to the actual lives’ of the members) whining about being caught out, with a heaping dose of posturing thrown in? No thanks. But worse that that is the fact that “2MYX” is hijacking the girl’s message and seeks to completely discount her experiences and feelings just so that the guy can have the last say. It is incredibly disappointing to see such petty and undermining behaviour being glamorised with this song.

The MV, at least, goes some way to making up for this shortcoming with its technical profiency. Though there are hints of recycled choreography (the most blatant being Hyuna‘s signature pelvic thrusting from “Change,” in addition to a fair amount of Infinite), other aspects of the MV were decent.

The outfits, were well co-ordinated while also allowing for individuality, with the dark khakhi and blue combination turning out better than expected. The Michael Jackson dance tribute was a nice nod to the very MJ-and-’90s-sounding song. And no complaint about the sets and locations seen in the MV– the lighting in the the non-illuminati dance set even makes it seem as though A-JAX is close-by one the fiery pits of hell.

A-JAX seem to be on an upwards trajectory, steadily gaining support; “2MYX” is a song executed well by the members, and one that will especially appeal to one’s nostalgia for the ’90s, but the message of the lyrics takes away from all the good. The “2MYX” MV earns a 2.2/5 and a heartfelt desire for A-JAX’s management to grow up and to show the talent they have in A-JAX in a better light.

(Daum Music, DSP Media, kpoplyrics, Omponk via YeinJee’s Asian Journal, SM Entertainment, Zum News)