I would be the first to admit that I dropped out of the Kpop stratosphere between 2014 and 2015. At the time my music tastes shifted towards an alternative rock sound, and as a result I missed a lot of rookie debuts and comebacks. One of these groups was 24K.
Now it’s hard to make an excuse since I was well into Kpop when they debuted in 2012. However, the song that gave this group my attention was their 2013 single, “U R So Cute,” and I hadn’t heard a thing about them since. I quickly took a listen to their comebacks since then and they came out with two mediocre hip-hop songs in 2015 after falling off the radar for two years – so I’m not terribly surprised that I forgot this group existed. But now, they’ve come out with their brand new single “Still 24K” after some member changes, and it almost hits everything it’s supposed to.
When talking about the song, it goes for an EDM sound that I’ve always liked in the Kpop genre. It hits a lot of the marks you’d expect in a dramatic Kpop song: verses that build up momentum, a strings instrumental between the second chorus and the bridge. It even adds some hip-hop elements as you get into the rap breaks throughout the song. All of this works in the song’s favor, but there are a couple drawbacks that prevent it from being a truly great song.
One of the most glaringly obvious faults in this song is the chorus. Upon first hearing it, I actually wasn’t sure if there was a chorus at all. I was hoping for a lot more of a punch considering the momentum that the verses were building up to. Had I not been looking at English subtitles while I was watching the video, I would have totally missed the awkward rap and auto-tuned vocals. It feels as if the group gets lost in the bombastic, dramatic instrumental, and that is not a good thing to have in a song like this. To lose control is to give way to chaos, and it’s too bad because had the chorus been clearer, more defined, and lived up to the momentum the verses foreshadowed, it would have been one of my favorite songs of the summer.
The other thing that bothered me was the lyrics themselves. They come off just as awkward as the chorus itself. “My heart is made of twenty-four k gold?” It was lyrics like this peppered through the song that made it feel less dramatic than it was going for.
As I played it over and over, one of the things I thought about was that this is a change in image and sound after a few of the members left 24K and got replaced by new ones. Considering how much 24K has been floundering around in the Kpop scene, I feel like this was a song meant for their fans to reassure them that they are still the group they’ve been a fan of since 2012, and from a marketing standpoint I understand it. However, it’s hard to take it seriously when 24K has been around for four years and haven’t been able to break out too much.
And then we get to the music video, which hits just about all the same things the song does, as well as just as many drawbacks. Concepts about being part of a gang-like group, your girl getting kidnapped by an opposing gang-like group, and trying to save the girl have been used dozens of times in Kpop. Infinite even went as far as to use it in their 2014 comeback, “Back.” The difference between Infinite’s use of the concept and 24K’s is the use of plot. Despite it being a short video, it is very easy to understand what is going on in Infinite’s music video and it all comes out to a cohesive, clear whole. Unfortunately, 24K suffers a case of bad video editing, where a lot of scenes show up but don’t make sense. The saving grace is there is at least a sense of tension in the video, despite everything else.
Overall, the song is not a bad one, but the lack of chorus draws it back from being a song that could break 24K into the big leagues, and the video doesn’t help mask the song’s drawbacks. However, the good news is it’s a step in the right direction after the terrible headaches “Hey You,” and “Super Fly,” were. Let’s hope they keep to this concept and do it better next time because intense works for them better than any of their other concepts as of late.