Nu’est debuted to great momentum with the memorable “Face” in 2012, but fell behind their popular peers B.A.P and Exo, in a story of severe mismanagement and lacking promotions that needs little introduction. Instead, they have gone on to create an unorthodox success story for themselves, one that many others have tried to emulate with little success. After a glorious run without Minhyun (who was promoting as a Wanna One member then) as Nu’est W, the group finally reunited last year with the successful Happily Ever After EP that became a milestone era for the group both as idols and musicians. With the lead title “I’m in Trouble”, Nu’est makes their anticipated follow-up comeback after seven months.
“I’m in Trouble” is a song about an intense romance, which Nu’est contrasts with a restrained and subtle MV and performance. That is not to say that the MV lacks on grandeur. They have instead choosen a more understated approach. After all, Nu’est have always carried themselves and performed in a deceivingly mature way, especially since the members are currently just in their mid-twenties, having debuted young. As a five-membered group, they are unlikely to have the explosive energy and the dynamic choreography of their younger brother group Seventeen, but the composed and sultry concept they have chosen to go for both musically and visually could not have played better to their strengths and charms.
As the song’s title suggests, the MV appropriately utilises a cool palette for the majority of the video to create a sterile, unfeeling, and dangerous environment. The only noticeable warm colours come in the form of an exaggerated unnatural wash of orange and red with semblances of disorder. The video never goes further than hinting at a story line, with text messages from an unknown individual appearing throughout. There are constant signs of trouble brewing, as the scenes of calm each member is caught in slowly turns dark.
The MV opens with a scene of all five members facing each other, seated in a circle. The members are presented as being very individualistic, with little connection between them. By the end, the members have completely turned against each other as they point finger guns at one another with hard-hearted expressions, a symbol that the dangerous love has taken over as the song draws to a close. The MV ends off with a cliffhanger, with all five members turning to respond to an uninvited guest that we do not see and can only presume to be the author of the text messages.
From the introductory notes, the song’s use of a gentle guitar line as the constant melody line holding the song together is reminiscent of Nu’est W’s “Dejavu“, although not quite near as catchy. What is salient about the song then, is its unusual song structure. The song starts off as a regular K-pop song, with verses containing sparse instrumentals and gorgeous harmonies, except that while most songs rush pass verses to get to the chorus as the song’s highlight, “I’m in Trouble” is carried by its verses. Main vocalist Baekho, who co-composed and co-wrote the song with Bumzu, has a distinctively thick voice, which is used to bring power and excitement to the pre-chorus. By the time listeners get to the first chorus, nearly a third of the song’s 3-minute duration has already passed.
Unfortunately, the song’s weakest link is its chorus, which falls short of living up to the character of its verses and the exciting build-up of its pre-chorus, especially since the post-chorus relies on the repetition of its title with little variation. Thankfully, what the song manages to do — and excel in — is to not dwell too long on the chorus and tire its hook. The chorus’ two parts are thus only heard twice throughout the song. Both segments are introduced in the first chorus, only the first part appears in the second chorus, and only the post-chorus surfaces in the song’s final moments. The final result is a track that manages to cleverly and seamlessly flow in the listener’s ear without drawing attention to its quirks, with the song’s bridge sounding misleadingly like a post-chorus but then transitions into the song’s initial post-chorus. The ending of the song then sounds oddly premature, urging you on for another listen.
Another stand out part to the MV is the fairness of the screen time and line distributions, something that K-pop producers and companies alike should take notes on. Beyond just pleasing fans who want more time for their bias to shine, a fair screen time and line distribution speaks very well of a team and their capabilities. Not to mention, it makes for a much more dynamic and interesting listen, to be able to hear the same part of the song sung by another voice with a distinctly different timbre.
While their main vocalist is the clear stand-out in this track, the other members also offer respectable takes on the song’s more challenging parts. Similarly, it is not only their main dancer who is highlighted at dance breaks and all members hold their own in the song’s irresistible choreography. Through “I’m in Trouble”, the balance in skills of the Nu’est is flaunted, and highlights Nu’est’s striking teamwork and their collective strength as a unit.
Having renewed their contract with Pledis Entertainment just last year, we can expect more music from Nu’est. Thus far, they have been quite clear with the direction of their releases, although it would not be surprising if Nu’est gets a bit more experimental in a few comebacks. After all, Nu’est’s strength lies not in their music but in the members themselves, and are likely to be able to make any given song sound and feel like a Nu’est track.
“I’m in Trouble” is not by any means groundbreaking, but has its own charm and deserved place in Nu’est’s promising discography. The MV perfectly captures what makes Nu’est unique — a carefully balanced mixture of concepts and styles, executed by a group with especially impeccable teamwork.