When considering reality show spawned groups that really got the short end of the stick, 1THE9 immediately come to mind. Despite stemming from the decently successful “Under Nineteen”, the group have been grossly under promoted to say the least. This coupled with some fairly generic and uninspiring singles and it’s fair to say that many people have forgotten the groups very existence. This is a shame because the boys are arguably one of the most talented to come out of any Korean reality show. Bad Guy arrives as what is likely the groups penultimate single and thankfully ignites the spark that I saw in songs like Shooting Star.
2020 has been a year dominated by dark edgy concepts. I don’t know what’s been in the water but almost every boy group seems intent to show a more “mature” and “cool” side to themselves. In most cases their music has suffered as a result and while there have been some clear standouts, those songs have usually favoured heavy experimentation and ever changing production. Few groups have supplied the kind of angsty streamlined dance track that I’ve been craving for. You know, the Going Crazy, Back Again or Valkyrie kind. This is where Bad Guy comes in. This right here is how you do angsty boy group dance pop right. Rather than shift in multiple different directions, there’s a laser beam focus on that grandiose larger than life chorus. This kind of fully fleshed out melody is very rare to find in 2020’s mundane K-pop landscape and that’s why it feels so vital. The chugging electro instrumental hits all the right spots and the boys match it with an equally emotive and cathartic hook. I love two part choruses and Bad Guy is one of the key reasons why.
And rather than collapse into any momentum killing trap or edm breakdowns, Bad Guy manages to keep a brisk pace throughout its run time. As a result we get a fully formed pop song that feels as though it’s constantly building. It’s so great to hear rap breaks when the instrumental doesn’t come and sabotage the flow or completely halt the momentum. It’s got a great drive to it and boy is it satisfying. The boys also sound great and while the vocal effects during the chorus are a little off putting during the first few listens, they become less of an issue over further listens. But when compared to everything the group have released and most of what we’ve come to expect in 2020, Bad Guy is a wonderful surprise. If this is their swan song, then it’s an absolute triumph.
Final Rating: 9 / 10