20141007_seoulbeats_madtown2The next generation of idols has continued to gain ground, with new boy groups debuting in the big three entertainment companies in the past couple of years. This year alone has seen Got7 and Winner emerge from JYP and YG as their newest additions to the scene. The smaller companies have also thrown their hats into the ring, and the latest from J. Tune Camp is the seven-member group Mad Town. Mad Town’s members include: Moos, Daewon, Lee Geon, Jota, Heo Jun, Buffy, and H.O. Their title song “YOLO” is composed by Shin Hyuk’s Zumbas Music. It’s a hip hop flavored number that unfortunately misses in more than a few key areas.

I have a soft spot for groups in smaller companies and I really want to like Mad Town, but this debut hasn’t done enough to distinguish it from the pack. The group’s aspirations seem to be in the right place. For the album, the members have had a hand in the behind-the-scenes work for their album – penning lyrics, working on choreography, and pitching in on production as well. While the ambitions of the group seem great, it’s difficult to find a standout quality from their titular release. The song utilizes a heavy bass and the members rap and sing their allotted lines. However, it neither showcases any great flow from the rappers, nor highlights any spectacular runs or vocal nuances from any of the singers. At the end of the track, the song feels like a track that could be interchangeable with another boy group B-side.

[youtube http://youtu.be/hIifkvZGXng]

This impression extends to the music video, which does nothing unique — it doesn’t introduce the members to the viewers. Instead, it focuses heavily on the dance, with occasional solo shots and spliced scenes of the members mucking about in a playroom filled with comics, a skating ramp, and some old school arcade games. I’m not entirely sure what type of image the group wants to present with “YOLO.” In between spray painting basketballs and water gun fights, I get the sense that they want to be seen as a youthful group with hip hop flair. Neither element is emphasized enough, so the lack of tone leaves me feeling indifferent.

The dancing for the majority of the video is also rather lackluster. Their choreography has a dearth of complexity and it comes off awkward at certain points during the MV. The chorus, especially, feels disjointed as the mixture of the two-step with hand movements is devoid of any power or rhythm. That’s not to say that the boys aren’t talented at dancing. Some moments do show the boys of Mad Town finding a bit of a groove, but then the chorus kicks back in, and it lulls back towards a low note again. I was surprised that the boys didn’t showcase more of their aerial and acrobatic abilities throughout the video. The bit they displayed at the end certainly reveals their athletic capabilities, and they can benefit from adding some of that to their movement.

20141007_seoulbeats_madtown3One last complaint that I have with this MV is that some of the settings are too small. With seven members, the space required to fit everyone in is probably more than your average room. In the video, some of the rooms feel downright claustrophobic. The dark cement hallway, for one, feels too narrow. It’s very possible that the restrictive space contributed to the level choreography allowed in the video. It’s bad location scouting and something that did not work for the song.

All in all, Mad Town’s debut was a complete letdown. As a debut track, “YOLO” hasn’t done much to introduce the group. It also fails in highlighting any of the group members’ strengths. The song is standard fare, the dance is insipid, and the MV is not particularly interesting.

Despite my complaints, debuts aren’t usually career-ending events. The guys show promise in some areas that will serve them well in the long run. Mad Town have had a hand in the creation of their own music, so it bodes well that they may have a passion for producing the music they perform (not something all idols can claim). Also, even with such uninspiring choreography, some of the members have briefly displayed their athletic capabilities. Hopefully with better choreography, they may be able to show off their skills in the future.

“YOLO” gets a 1.75/5 from me, but there is still hope that Mad Town can do better and stand out in the competitive boy band battlefield.

(J. Tune Camp, YouTube, Sports Chosun)