With a name indicative of a distinctive age group, a name like The Boyz’s can be restrictive. Yet, The Boyz have proved again and again that they will make it work. Undefeated on Road to Kingdom, runner-up on Kingdom, and with a successful comeback with “The Stealer”, it seems like they have finally found their footing in darker and mature concepts.
Making a comeback this summer with “Thrill Ride”, The Boyz, however, have made a deliberate choice to not fully commit to cuteness, unlike in “Bloom Bloom” and “D.D.D”. Instead, maturity and hints of darkness still creeps their way into this summery track to construct a hybridised image. This is done to the point where it can somewhat be classified as partly “teen crush”, but for the most parts, refreshing.
While slight darkness and summer may sound like a mismatch, The Boyz show their ability to find the balance between flirty, mature, boyish and cute. Briefly put, “Thrill Ride” is a brief summer break amidst their continuous streak of darker releases like “The Stealer”, “Kingdom Come”, “Breaking Dawn”, and “Drink It”.
Embodying the joys of summer, there is neither a need for a storyline or deep meaning for this comeback. As Sunwoo explains, “This time around we’re more into, ‘let’s be chill, let’s relax on stage, let’s really enjoy the vibe of the music’”. The main essence of the MV revolves around the youthfulness of The Boyz who take on various part time jobs as per their character posters. They become lifeguards, servers and bellhops. While they are hardworking, they also know how to unwind at the end of the day. Simply put, they work hard in the day and play harder at night. In the day shots, members are seen in their respective jobs. And at night, they appear in casual clothing in a neon-lit bar, in the pool, and in and on top of UTV vehicles.
Yet, with a MV void of a storyline and symbolism, their dance sequence marks a gentle visual shift in gears. In an otherwise cheery piece, The Boyz go on a slightly darker route in the pre-chorus, before reverting back to its signature lively sound. Although, admittedly, this abrupt switch up can be slightly confusing for some, from an alternate point of view, this symbolic contrast between light and dark cleverly mimics the peaks and dips of a rollercoaster ride.
It is certainly not summer without referencing the hot weather. To the surprise of many The Bs who were expecting “Thrill Ride” to be reminiscent of their past summer track, “D.D.D”, the members are seen showing a bit more skin than usual instead. Notably, Hyunjae, Eric, Younghoon, and New who are usually not in sleeveless tops now don them with confidence. In other words, this also means showing off their well-toned summer bodies, like youngest member, Eric’s split second shot of his abs. In a wider scheme of things, this is possibly The Boyz’s attempt to shift towards a more mature style while still conforming to the usual bright summer look.
As a summer hip-hop track, “Thrill Ride” is an instant earworm. With its addictive and bright pre chorus and whistle, it quickly etches itself in the listener’s brain. Especially so when it was first heard in their Thrill Ride Announcement.
In contrast, their maturity noticeably kicks in through their lyrics. At the crux of it, “Thrill Ride” draws a parallel between the thrill of being in a relationship to the thrill of being on a rollercoaster. Though it may not be obvious on first look, the members have repeatedly suggested that fans read between the lines. While there is no deep meaning to “Thrill Ride”, it certainly leaves traces of sexiness and suggestiveness. Particularly, Sunwoo and Eric’s breathy rap verses catch the eyes of many, on top of the various zoomed in lips and arms shots. Barred from further explanation from the members, at the very least, one can conclude that their lines are flirty and suggestive.
Let’s get it on, Melt chocolate
I melt this summer who resembles you
Too much chill drench you and me
Baby, Catch me, Go!
And likewise for Kevin’s part:
Shaking breath, it hits you and me
My lips are dry, I’m breathless (Oh)
Yet in a matter of seconds in the next group dance shot, it quickly reminds viewers that “Thrill Ride” is still a fun summer song. These moments ride by so quickly, it is as if they never happened. Blink and you might miss it. (The same is true for the shot of Eric’s abs, which I only realised upon subsequent watches.) In retrospect, this may be another try at preserving their shy, boyish appeal while hinting at their maturity.
To say the least, “Thrill Ride” meets the minimum expectations of a summer track. As a rising group whose strength lies in their highly layered concepts on Road to Kingdom and Kingdom, The Boyz look like they are playing it safe this round. And for that, “Thrill Ride” is one that does not aim to prove their strengths. Instead, it shows that sometimes, boys just want to have fun and music does not always have to be deep. Ultimately, “Thrill Ride” achieves what it sets out to do — it reveals that The Boyz can be sexy and mature and yet still retain their playful boyish charms.
(Teen Vogue. YouTube. Images via Cre.ker Entertainment. Lyrics via Lyrics Kpop)