Jun 14, 2015

A Tale Of Three Debuts: Romeo, Monsta X And N.Flying

This spring has been, arguably, dominated by girl groups, both new ones and seasoned. I have been loving all the debuts and comebacks by some of my favorite girls, but to say I haven't missed a bit of testosterone on the stage. However as spring started turning into summer, more boy groups started to enter the scene, and before the summer of girl group comebacks begin I wanted to highlight some of the rookie boy groups that have debuted the last couple of months: Romeo, Monsta X and N.Flying. 

Romeo consists of seven members and made their official debut on May 7th, and their debut title track is called "Lovesick". My first impression of the video is that it's white, and not only because of the white clothes, sets and props but the adjusted brightness of the finished product. Most videos have some kind of filter, whether it's a warmer och colder tone, higher or lower saturation and so on, and this one's clear purpose seems to be to strip the members of all color and make them as pale and
as possible. I've seen similar videos before, obviously, and it's a common added feature for groups with a harmless and more innocent concept, but it's gone to an extreme level with "Lovesick". I can't even make out the details of some of the white backgrounds because it's so bright, and that's when you know they've taken it a bit too far. Not cute.

Otherwise I think the video is fine, although a bit too safe for a debut that's supposed to grab attention. The sets are generic but alright, the choreography is pretty standard too and the styling is actually surprisingly decent. I love me some good suits, you all know that. The song too is fine, and while it doesn't leave much of a lasting impression it's good while you're listening to it. None of the members truly stand out to me though, neither with visuals or talent, and that could be a problem for them. Overall they seem quite anonymous, and that if anything will hinder their way to success.

I have seen fellow fans make comparisons to both Infinite and Boyfriend, both of which I can understand, but it's not blatantly obvious that they're in some way "copying" them since no one owns any type of concept. I will say though that if they're going that route the shoes to fill are pretty big, and so far I'm not too convinced they'll be able to make a name for themselves in the future. Seeing both as they're from a smaller company and having an utterly mediocre debut some kind of change is vital if they want to make it big.

Song: 2,5/5
Video: 2,8/5

Taking a slightly different approach with their debut onto the K-pop scene is Monsta X, who debuted on May 13th with "Trespass". This hip-hop influenced group is Starship Entertainment's newest addition to their rooster and their second boy group following Boyfriend. They've also already had a pre-debut elimination show and reality show with the finalized line-up, so it's clear Starship wants this group to do well and gain attention. I personally haven't watched any of the shows because it didn't spark my interest, so I went into this knowing very little about this seven-membered group.

At first watch I wanted to give up before the actual song had even started because the intro made me cringe like noting else, and also sigh out of disappointment. Not another wannabe-gangster group please! However as I forced myself to sit through the entire thing I was actually not that mad about it. I wrote earlier about my frustration with these kind of concepts in my review for Uniq's "EOEO", and that point still stands because I do not like it, but this better for a few reasons.

Firstly, the song is actually quite catchy. The lyrics put me off but the melody is infectious and the rappers actually know what they're doing. The video might be a bit gimmicky as well, but it's certainly a lot more interesting to watch as it at least serves some kind of plot that makes sense with the lyrics. Yes, it's still quite bad and definitely cringe-worthy, but I can at least find a few things that I liked about it. On the negative side is pretty much everything else, because although it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be for a concept like this it still plays on all the stereotypes. The styling is typical and tragic and the editing, light effects and messy camerawork certainly all adds to the cheap impression of the video. I do have to say though, that the members of Monsta X intrigued me a lot more than Romeo, so maybe it's better to put everything out there instead of playing it safe after all.

Song: 3,25/5
Video: 2,6/5

Last but not least we have FNC Entertainment's newest boy band N.Flying, who made their debut on May 19th with "Awesome". They are, like their senior labelmates, a four-membered band, but that's as far as similarities go in my opinion. Judging by this song they definitely lean more over at what CNBlue has sounded like in the past, but "Awesome" features more rapping than all of CNBlue's rapping throughout their entire discography. There are some shared features with "I'm A Loner", but this song is a pretty bad attempt at recreating the success that that song had when it came out back in 2010. The song is pretty weak both as a rockier kind of track since the instruments sound pretty muted, and as a pop-track because the melody is boring and repetitive.

The video gives me pretty much nothing, which is a shame because I usually have good experiences with FNC's videos. The main star is AOA's Seolhyun, who acts as the sexy love interest the members lust after. There's something else going on too but I can't understand exactly what, and I'm honestly not that curious either. That's how little this debut interests me. Maybe it is the song that's keeping me from appreciating the video, but it's clear that FNC's budget priorities did not benefit these guys. This video is the definition of lackluster, and although Seolhyun is there to bless the viewers with her mere existence she sadly cannot save this mess of a debut video.

Maybe I was just expecting too much, but I still feel like they should have gotten something better than this. The song is underwhelming, the plot of the video is confusing and the members still feel completely unknown despite all being in the video. It's a cheap effort on FNC's part, and it sucks because I know they're all attractive and presumably quite talented at their respective instruments as well. I seriously hope that their comeback will be something more exciting, both song-wise and video-wise because I cannot tell you how much I appreciate FNC's efforts to normalize actual bands in mainstream K-pop. Such a shame this one is off to such a bad start.

Song: 1,5/5
Video: 2/5

It's fair to say that Romeo, Monsta X and N.Flying all have gone completely different directions with their concepts, but unfortunately none of them managed to impress me much at all. Perhaps is it because of the unusually strong girl group debuts this past year that I've set my expectations too high, but it's also definitely because none of them were particularly great either. If I were to pick one group to follow out of these three it would definitely be Monsta X though, because although the video was dodgy the song was the best and I found myself most attracted to the members. What will happen with these groups remain to be seen, but I do wish for all of them to up their game a bit if they want to keep up with the girls, who clearly have the upper hand at the moment.

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