When Oneus debuted with the fantastic Valkyrie last year, I was thrilled to see another group going for a darker dance pop sound. It’s one that characterised the works of some of my favourite groups and the fact that a newer group were attempting to turn that into their signature sound was a wonderful prospect. Unfortunately, none of the groups following singles really managed to ignite that same spark. New single To Be Or Not To Be casts the group in slightly more edgier territory and the results are more or less what you would expect.
When I first heard the teasers for To Be Or Not To Be, I was absolutely blown away. It promised a kind of trance rock crossover; something quite unique within the K-pop landscape. And whilst much of the final product does incorporate those particular characteristics, in reality much of To Be Or Not To Be feels like basic 2020 boy group k-pop. From the slow burn verses to the noisy and incredibly grating trap breakdown, everything just feels par for the course.
I bring up the trap breakdown because this one’s right up there with some of the most jarring and unnecessary ones I’ve ever come across. There was no need for such an aggressive and noisy breakdown in a song like this and it honestly takes away so much of the goodwill it had been building up until that point. Because of this, it feels like the track sacrifices its constant sense energy for mood. This isn’t inherently a bad thing but it prevents the track from really reaching its full potential.
I say this because when To Be Or Not To Be hits its stride, it absolutely soars. I love the introduction of a more electronic backing during the pre-chorus and much of the hook heavily recalls the kind of surging, almost weightless melody that made songs like Valkyrie and Bingbing so exhilarating. The backing vocals here are a great addition and give the hook an almost ethereal feel whilst still managing to heighten the drama that Oneus songs usually aim for. But the tracks knockout moment is its trance infused post-chorus, which introduces a healthy dose of rock guitar over a filtered repetition of the songs title. It’s great stuff and had more of the song been in a similar vein, then we could have had a real highlight here. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and much like what happened with (G)-idle, ONF and ITZY, I come away from this ONEUS comeback a little disappointed.
Final Rating: 8/10