As YG Entertainment’s first boy group since iKon, the newly-debuted Treasure has generated quite a bit of excitement within the K-pop community. Even without their 2018 survival show to form a proto-fandom, Treasure’s debut would have been received with eager anticipation and bated breath. So does the long-awaited “Boy” actually deliver?
Not really. “Boy”’s not bad per se, but it’s also not nearly as high-quality as you’d expect from an industry monolith like YG. The single confuses more than it impresses.
Before we get into the messy musical particulars, let’s talk about “Boy”’s MV. It’s not a terribly original MV, but it gets the job done well. The jarring chorus drop is well-reflected by a sudden shift from a calming mint-green set to a jagged, futuristic dance set complete with flashing lights. And sports motifs (a jewel-encrusted ball, a dance set built to resemble a soccer goal, basketball nets, rock climbing, and a large indoor pool) scattered throughout lend a sense of youthful energy.
The MV brings a certain level of polish that’s almost expected with larger K-pop companies these days — see the glossy black floors, which create reflections that add much more visual interest than a matte black floor would. See the use of color theory, present in the opposite set colors of cool green and burnt orange. And see the interesting visual ideas, like a cloud of green dust and exploding fireworks.
There are also some cool moments that lend themselves well to establishing a theme between several MVs. For example, in the scene when one of the members dives from a great height into the aforementioned indoor pool, we’re never shown him splashing into the water, only diving. A sequel MV could continue the theme by showing the splash, and perhaps build more of a storyline. Overall, “Boy” has a perfectly solid MV.
The music itself, though, is a different story.
“Boy” starts off strong with a compelling electro beat and a confident melody. But after the generic trap beat drops, everything falls apart. The pre-chorus, which slavishly sticks to EDM tropes, is briefly saved by Mashiho’s quick gem of a line. But the track takes a downhill turn yet again, with an incredibly jarring chorus drop. Then it collapses into the kind of trap-slathered second verse that has plagued most boy group title tracks this year. Been there, done that. Yawn.
But later on, the instrumental pauses. Amid the dramatic emptiness, rapper Hyunsuk delivers a single line, a repetition of the same musical note — and it’s surprisingly commanding.
Then of course “Boy” has to go and squander that goodwill on a tired last chorus, with a wannabe-anthemic chant thrown on top; seriously, YG groups need to let go of their obsession with these grafted-on last-chorus chants. There was a time when this musical hallmark actually worked, but now it seems that YG’s newest title tracks just use the chorus-chant template for lack of more creative ideas (I’m looking at you, Black Pink).
“Boy” is at turns generic and promising. Its inconsistency is frustrating, especially because Treasure is positioned to become a top rookie group — the boys deserve material that matches their status. But let’s talk about this debut’s lack of originality. First off: that aforementioned chorus drop? It’s a near-exact facsimile of the chorus drop in Black Pink’s “How You Like That” — which was just released a month ago! From the same company! YG, how could you have missed this kind of lazy self-plagiarism? And “Boy”’s electronic dance break sounds ripped straight from Exo’s “Ko Ko Bop”, albeit less robust.
“Boy” just doesn’t bring anything new or exciting to the table. Its MV is fine but doesn’t establish a real identity for the group. The accompanying music draws from a hodgepodge of tired ideas in K-pop, without ever becoming greater than the sum of its parts.
If Treasure came from any other company, perhaps their debut would feel less acutely disappointing. If fans hadn’t been waiting for nearly two years, perhaps the hype wouldn’t be quite as fever-pitch and the resulting material would be able to better fill those shoes. But as a YG group whose debut has been long anticipated, Treasure’s “Boy” is a letdown. “Quality over quantity” has been the company’s mantra for years. But now, not only do the songs come few and far in between, but they’re also not worth the wait.
Let me just end with this: after a whole drawn-out survival show, after two years of waiting, after a debut single and plenty of hype, I still have no idea what Treasure’s identity is. I still don’t know what their core sound is. I still can’t figure out their artistic vision.
And, by definition, that’s a failed debut.
(YouTube. Images via YG Entertainment.)