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Teen Top: ‘Teen Top Class’ album review

The boys of Teen Top have returned with a smashing new mini-album, Teen Top Class. There are no surprises in there – the tidy package of 5 full songs and 1 introductory track stay true and loyal to the Teen Top style – a main course of heavy electronic dance tracks along with R&B/hip-hop flavoured sides.

The mini-album kicks off with introduction track ‘Teen Top Class’, which gives us an indication of what to expect in the rest of the album. I particularly liked this introduction because of how absolutely irregular it is. The beats are all over the place, almost random, and the raps are not always on point with the beats and seem to change tempo at whim. But alas, as with all introduction tracks, it ended way too quickly.

If you’ve ever watched Teen Top on variety shows, you’d know how ridiculously loud and boisterous these boys can get, and their music has always been a good reflection of their personalities. The second track ‘Rocking’, once again embodies their high energy and zany personalities perfectly, both through the hard-hitting electronic synths in the song, as well as through the insane and much raved about choreography that was executed to perfection.

However, if I were to be completely honest, ‘Rocking’ the song is probably nothing to shout about. I liked how the introduction does a great job of building up anticipation and tension before the head-banging beats are unleashed, but that’s about all. The hooks are repetitive and the bass thumping borders on being excessively obnoxious. I would have had enough of the song after two or three listens because it really offers next to nothing if you were looking for more than just mindless pop fare. But add in the performance and choreography? It’s a completely different story. Teen Top is well-known for their ‘knife’ choreography (i.e. very sharp and in-sync moves) and no one can deny that the group is one of the better dance-centric groups out there. With all that talk thrown about in K-pop Land lately regarding “performance pieces”, well, I would say ‘Rocking’ is a great performance piece, on the basis of how dependent it is on the performance to provide the listener a complete and enjoyable experience.

The next track, ‘Don’t I’, is infinitely more interesting right from the get-go, with the saxophone charmingly, almost lazily, taking the limelight in the introduction, and then go on to be layered behind some very melodic rapping. Not only does it provide some much-needed relief from the relentless electronic synths in the previous track, the less-busy accompanying music also allows the vocals and raps to take centre-stage, and you would naturally find yourself marvelling at how impressive this group sounds despite seemingly having their focus on their dancing. Both Chunji and Niel have very distinct vocals that easily set them apart from their competitors, while L.joe and C.A.P pull off their raps effortlessly and with much aplomp.

In true Teen Top spirit, ‘Oh! Good’ immediately reverts back to… you guessed it, electronic synths. The singing is kept to a bare minimum in this track – the electronic synths and thumps carry the song through, with the occasional ‘oh good‘ thrown in during the chorus. I would say this is the weakest song on the mini-album. It appears to be trying to follow in ‘Rocking’s footsteps, but it doesn’t go all out like ‘Rocking’ and ends up sounds like a bland, watered-down version of the title track.

‘Date’ is up next, and it is probably the closest you would get to a ballad with Teen Top. It’s heavily R&B-influenced and very groovy. It’s rather generic, but on the bright side it also means that it’s easy to like and stomach. It also helps that the lyrics, even though they’re extremely cheesy, would melt even the hardest of noona hearts. ‘I can’t quit you, I love it when you’re in my arms. I get surprised by seeing you open your eyes every day because you look like a fairy‘? See what I mean?

‘Rock Star’ features Maboos from Electroboyz, and it’s not surprising given that Electroboyz are managed by Brave Entertainment, and Brave Brothers produces almost everything Teen Top puts out (if I sound cynical here, it’s really all your own imagination ha ha). Maboos (along with fellow group member Chakun) had previously featured in Teen Top’s ‘Mr. Bang’ off their full-length album ‘No.1‘. Based on their previous track record, one would be inclined to think that Maboos is only roped in because the boys from Teen Top cannot handle the grittier style of hip-hop and would therefore need Maboos to provide some authenticity with all his years of experience. But my doubts were blown out of the water when I heard this track because C.A.P and L.joe performed their verses magnificently. I guess it’s easy to write them off because they’re rappers in an idol group, but I think they’re definitely much better rappers than people actually give them credit for.

TeenTopClass-2

I can’t be sure if the title of the mini-album ‘Teen Top Class‘ is intended to be interpreted both ways – ‘Teen Top’ / ‘Top Class’. If so, then I would say it might be a bit too much to consider this mini-album ‘top class’, partly because it’s almost a run-of-the-mill K-pop album by industry standards, and also partly because I believe Teen Top has yet to reach their maximum potential.

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Despite having been in the industry for more than 3 years, it’s amazing how the boys have yet to appear jaded. Not naming any groups, but it’s all too common to see K-pop groups go from being all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and super high energy rookies during their first year, to end up subdued and exhausted and looking like they’re on auto-pilot during performances once they gain recognition and their schedules get packed to the brim. I can quite confidently say that Teen Top has yet to fall into the latter category. They still look like they’re having a ton of fun on stage, and their energy is palpable and contagious, and that translates very easily into great performances. Given that they haven’t ran out of energy, I guess we can quite safely say that the boys still have plenty more to bring to the table.

Here’s to many more rocking good songs from the group!

P.S. Congrats on that Music Bank first win for ‘Rocking’, boys!

(Pictures credit: sericap)

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Comments
2 Responses to “Teen Top: ‘Teen Top Class’ album review”
  1. KyungMi says:

    I didn’t really like it. :( I think it was a little too processed for me that it sounded way too (kpop) generic. And I had such high expectations.

    But I still can’t get over those ugly shoes they’re wearing on the album cover. Lolol

    • Cheryl says:

      Hi KyungMi! Yup, I know where you’re coming from and I feel you! Unfortunately, I don’t think their style of music would change much unless they start considering other producers/songwriters. And personally I feel it’s about time they did.

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