It is not unusual for groups to cycle through various concepts, especially with the constant need to reinvent themselves to remain relevant in the K-pop industry.

When H1-Key originally hit the scene they embodied an athletic theme in songs like “Athletic Girl” and “Run.” However, they took a turn with their last comeback, “Rose Blossom,” and instead ventured into the pop-rock aesthetic. That single must have hit a mark with their agency and fanbase because they have continued that theme with their latest comeback single, “Let it Burn.” In doing so, they may have found their signature sound that could potentially allow the group to stand out.

The rock-inspired genre of K-pop is typically occupied by male groups like Day6, The Rose, and Xdinary Heroes, but there is plenty of space for more groups to emerge. The success of “Let it Burn,” along with whether or not their agency allows the group to evolve with this sound, will play into H1-Key’s future. For now, “Let it Burn” is a melodic pop-rock that correlates with the MV’s plot which centers around a band’s rebellion against being silenced.

The characteristics of the group’s personas in the MV show all the classic signs of the rebellious schoolgirl – untucked shirts, graphic t-shirts, and colored hair. However, the MV runs deeper than just plain rebellion. The personas for the MV are dealing with the aftermath of having their band closed down by their school. As such, the personas are rightfully expressing their discontent at losing their musical outlet, and when given the chance, just want to play music for their peers.

Overall, the angst concept of the MV fits in nicely with the nihilistic lyrics like, “Let’s burn down all the love or hate / Let it burn no matter what.” Similarly to the MV, the song may seem simply chaotic on the surface. However, the voice of the song is trying to resolve their monotony by completely resolving themselves of all of their emotions. While burning anything down might seem drastic, it is also a classic metaphor for wanting to start over again. In doing so, they can essentially return to a better place, and this concept aligns with the climax of the MV. In the end, the members succeed in their rebellion and are back to playing music for everyone to enjoy. 

While H1-Key might be hindered by the fact that they do not play instruments in their performances, their dance choreography carries that angst which combines perfectly with the mood of their music. Combined with scenes of the members mimicking a band, the entire aesthetic comes to life showing their fanbase that they can continue to tackle the genre. 

While it is not the norm, and this may only be a passing phase, H1-Key may have accidentally tapped into a genre that needs additional female voices. We can only wait and see if they will remain consistent, and continue to explore the pop-rock genre.

(Youtube. Lyrics via Genius. Images via Grandline Group)