Typically, the fall and winter season is filled with heartwarming, or heart wrenching, ballads from various artists. The songs are softer and a lot more emotional, and we often get aesthetically pleasing shots of Pinterest-esque houses and interior design, or of nature. However, Xdinary Heroes completely breaks all of that down with their debut track, “Happy Death Day”.
The group debuted under JYP Entertainment‘s Studio J, which is known for producing JYPE’s other band, Day6. It makes sense for Xdinary Heroes to make their debut now, considering the fact that Day6 is currently on a break, with members enlisting in the army or focusing on their solo projects. The day Xdinary Heroes debuted, the MyDays on my Twitter timeline could not stop talking about them. It’s safe to say that many other MyDays have latched onto this new band while Day6 is away, and for good reason, too.
“Happy Death Day” is not your typical K-pop song, and it definitely does not scream fall/winter ballad at all–it does scream, just not in the way you would expect it to. By leaning towards more punk and grunge rock, Xdinary Heroes have separated themselves from other bands, and even other artists within the K-pop sphere. Punk rock elements have made its way into K-pop before, such as Big Bang’s “Oh My Friend”, or Epik High’s “Don’t Hate Me”, but they have never been as prominent as in “Happy Death Day” before.
The members of Xdinary Heroes have also said that the song’s powerful sound is part of the group’s identity, signalling that the band is very much likely to delve further into the genre as their career progresses. This is definitely a step away from what we are used to, but it does evoke a sense of intrigue and curiosity as to what Xdinary Heroes will do next.
However, even though it is relatively unique, it does not automatically make the song good. The song is loud, and there are sections that clash with each other that make it fun to watch and listen to, but it does not have a tune that a listener can follow. Upon replaying the song over and over again, it starts to lose the unique edge it had at first, and you realise that you were mainly shocked and surprised by how loud and bold it was. Although the members took a risk in dabbling in a genre that is not usually prominent within the K-pop industry, it did not pay off completely, and more polishing and refining is needed.
The MV also incorporates elements of the punk scene, with the members dressing up as clowns for a birthday party, which is very reminiscent of Panic at the Disco’s “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” MV. The members are invited to perform at a child’s birthday party, and the mood starts out festive, with the members dressed in bright plaids and the crowd celebrating joyfully with the birthday boy. But the MV soon takes a darker turn. When the birthday boy blows out the candles, a contrasting reality is revealed: the adults present are disinterested in what is happening, and completely absorbed in their phones, even during the highlight of the party. The MV’s dark mood matches the song’s somewhat morbid implication that with every birthday, you are one year closer to your death day.
With a focus on an edgier concept and sound, Xdinary Heroes have definitely created a sense of what to expect for their upcoming music. It is unfortunate that “Happy Death Day” was released as a single instead of an album, as a mini album would have helped define their sound and their style of music a lot better. “Happy Death Day” on its own is a bit of a hit or miss–while listeners may be curious as to what they do next, it may not be enough to get listeners to be excited over their upcoming music.
I am reluctant to compare Xdinary Heroes with their seniors, Day6, for both bands have a distinctive style that is unique to them. However, in terms of its impact as a debut track, “Happy Death Day” feels much weaker as compared to “Congratulations”. It has been six years since the release of “Congratulations”, and yet it is still one of Day6’s most popular songs, even outside of their fanbase. It is unclear whether “Happy Death Day” will have that kind of longevity; I think it is unlikely.
With the K-pop scene expanding and experimenting with new styles, it is definitely exciting to see a band debut with such a strong, loud, and bold track. Xdinary Heroes could be the key to normalising punk and grunge rock within the industry, provided that they continue to refine and polish their sound.
(YouTube; Images via JYP Entertainment)