A narrow canyon. An endless desert. A refreshing summer scene of crashing waves and palm trees waving lazily in the breeze.
Ever since Ateez debuted in 2018 with “Pirate King,” both their MVs and songs feature prominent nature motifs and settings set alongside a central theme of dreams. This imagery continues with the group’s recent comeback on March 1 (sans Mingi, who has been on hiatus since November due to anxiety). A highlight of the MV for “Fireworks (I’m the One)” is the seven members’ triumphant poses as they stand on top of a steep mountain, a vast desert surrounding them on all sides. They have, once again, overcome the challenges that they faced.
It is all about the journey for Ateez—their first series was treasure hunt themed, after all. And reaching your dreams takes time. Spend a day with Ateez through these notable b-sides, from the first rays of the sunrise to the twinkling stars of the nighttime.
Look to the horizon. The air is still cool. The stars are only just beginning to lose their shine. Just like the line where the sky meets the sea brims with possibilities of a new day, so Ateez’s “Horizon” focuses on the potential rather than the definite with lyrics such as “North south east and west wherever / How long will it take / No one can tell.” This track from Treasure Epilogue: Action to Answer starts the journey with a classic Ateez drop before the chorus where a warped voice carries the hook.
See the sun peeking above the horizon? The sky is a painter’s palette, the lingering blues of the night bleeding into the warm pinks and oranges of the sun’s burgeoning appearance. “Sunrise” starts off the day on a positive note, although Ateez recognize that positivity is not necessarily all happiness but rather strength and encouragement buoying such a mindset. The softer song falls third to last in the track order of Treasure Ep.Fin: All to Action. A swelling chorus begins with a beat drop as the members sing “Just keep it up” and features inspiring riffs of an electric guitar that sets “Sunrise” apart from other pop-ballads.
The pre-chorus, like the sunrise to the new day, provides hopeful words to listeners and even to the musicians themselves as they place their full conviction behind these words:
What I want someone to say to me
Even if it’s a lie
‘You don’t have to worry.’
‘You’re doing great.’
‘Just keep it up. Just like you do now.’
Although mist often has a softness about it, Ateez’s track “Mist” is all but gentle. The song is slower like “Sunrise,” but the vocals and beats claim it to be an energized anthem full of vigor and possibilities waiting to burst. Uncertainty, a lack of confidence, and questioning oneself appears in the lyrics. The members reach out for a support system, for someone to walk side-by-side with them. Ultimately, however, they keep their chins up and wait for the sunlight to pierce through the fog once more, as they sing, “If it rains / The sun will rise / This mist will brighten up / When it’s cleared.”
As surely as mist will block the light, the sun never stops rising in the sky. The distant star dispels this weight with its warmth. “Dazzling Light” goes the EDM route with an empty chorus except for the repetition of “Who you who am I.” As the beats fall, imagine piercing rays of sunshine as it reaches its peak in the cloudless blue sky. There are limitless possibilities in the glow of the day.
“Dazzling Light” pinpoints the thematic narrative Ateez have explored since 2018 in the line, “Give me an answer to this endless question / A promise that led to destiny / Where is the end of our journey.” The group finds their answer in the title track of Treasure Epilogue, and they reference other b-sides in these lyrics, namely “Promise, “Destiny,” and “Intro: Long Journey” from their debut album.
Soon the daylight is fading. “Twilight” is a laid back track with a funky feel. Hongjoong’s easy rapping style and the crystal clear hook that pierces through the thumping instrumental compliment the strong images present in “Twilight.” The couple watch the sunset on a secluded beach, and the lyrics speak of a time frozen for a second:
This wonderful moment
I’ll keep it, I feel your scent coming
The atmosphere is ripe
I feel like I’m about to burst
I do not want to get rid of this ecstatic moment
When you and I are together
The last of the light disappears, yet even with this absence, the new darkness allows you to see the beauties in the sky that were invisible before. Ateez have made their mark on the K-pop industry since their debut on November 18, 2018, and “Star 1117” is their permanent remembrance of this time. The group has almost no pure ballads in their discography, but “Star 1117” from Treasure Epilogue is an exception. It has simple lyrics (“forever you are my star”) and a simple but heartfelt message complete with a swaying rhythm that captures listeners. The soft rat-a-tat-tat of the drums in the background subtly calls listeners to action and takes them back to the beginning of Ateez’s Treasure series as the members thank the star—possibly their fandom Atiny—for being their guiding light.
Even if I forget
All the memories over time,
I won’t forget the fact that you were always a light to me
That star is their anchor. It is there in the tough times, the good times, the times when they needed this light the most. Thankfulness closes the day.
All to say, one step at a time, one day at a time is all that can be done. As the day comes to an official close and as you continue to fight for your dreams, the topic of many of the group’s songs, Ateez are there to tell you that they are with you and for you on this journey. They give this small assurance in “One Day At A Time” from their new story, Zero: Fever Pt. 1. Ateez become the people that others can lean on (“Cause you can reach me, easy, whenever you like / Hit me up, DM, tweet, Kako me, or FaceTime”) in contrast to some of their earlier tracks where they were often the ones searching for the support.
With an earworm of a chorus, a rhythm that captures listeners, and an effortless flow of energy that pushes and pulls, “One Day At A Time” embodies Ateez with its straightforward sincerity: “I will be there for you.”
(YouTube. Images via KQ Entertainment. Lyrics via Genius, LyricsTranslate)