As you might have noticed, I’m not super familiar with most of the boy groups I’ve covered so far this month – I check out every comeback and I (probably) know everyone’s name, but my knowledge usually ends there. Golden Child, however, is a group that I’ve been interested in since their debut. I’ve seen them perform at multi-group concerts a few times, and I’ve become quite fond of them. I’m always excited to listen to their new music and see what they’re doing. Like many boy groups who appeared on Road to Kingdom, it seems like Golden Child is branching out and experimenting with different styles of music. So I was expecting something new for their latest comeback, but they still managed to completely surprise me.
Generally, I don’t look at comeback teasers (aside from photos) so I can be at max excitement level when the music video drops. I just really like to experience the song and music video together for the very first time with a fresh perspective. This system usually works pretty well for me, but it does mean I get a big surprise every once in a while. Case in point: Golden Child’s music video for “Burn It.” I didn’t look at any teasers, so I had no idea that it was about trying to SURVIVE A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. So, I was a little confused for the first minute or so. I definitely picked up on the sense of danger, but it wasn’t until Y brandished a baseball bat when I suddenly thought, “Wait, is this supposed to be a like zombie movie?” And then the zombies rushed them maybe two seconds after that, so it was all very overwhelming.
I won’t spoil the story of “Burn It” for those who haven’t seen it yet, but I will say I was incredibly impressed from the get go. Most of the narrative is fairly easy to guess if you watch a lot of action movies, but everything is done exceptionally well. Bomin gets the main storyline and the biggest chance to shine, since he’s probably the designated idol actor of Golden Child. (And he does a damned good job, too.) But many of the other members have compelling subplots – especially Tag, Joochan, Y, and Jaehyun – and I could tell that everyone really gave it their all in their acting. I couldn’t help but be drawn in, and I even found myself crying towards the end. I WAS NOT PREPARED TO GO ON SUCH AN EMOTIONAL JOURNEY.
So many K-pop music videos are high-concept these days, and there has been a bigger and bigger emphasis on gorgeous visuals in the past couple of years. More often than not, any potential narrative ends up being sacrificed for shots of the idols and the dazzling aesthetics. Or, the producers load the video with tons of details but keep the story intentionally vague so you have to dissect everything and make theories. (Which I enjoy doing, but sometimes I just want things nicely laid out and explained.) It’s really rare to see anything with an actual self-contained plot nowadays. And that’s totally fine – I’m not saying that all K-pop music videos need to be short films with compelling storylines. But when a group like Golden Child makes the effort to make what is essentially a mini-movie, I’m definitely going to take notice and remember it.
I truly believe that the music video for “Burn It” is sheer excellence. In my opinion, I haven’t seen a K-pop music video (with a narrative) this well-done since B.A.P’s “Skydive” back in 2016. My ONE issue is that the editing is a little frantic, and my eyes had trouble focusing and registering what was happening sometimes. Fast-paced editing and shaky camera shots make sense because the music video is supposed to be action style, but that has the unfortunate effect of making it hard to spot some of the members. The cuts were so choppy and short in most of the scenes that it was hard for me to find everyone (besides the main story with Bomin). And it seems like a couple of members just disappeared halfway through the video? It’s kind of a shame, because K-pop music videos are a big way to attract new fans – so ideally, all of the group members should be seen. But the music video is so strong in all other aspects that it’s not a huge deal to me.
As for “Burn It” itself, I enjoy it quite a bit. I like the melody, rhythm, and dance vibes, and it actually reminds me of the kind of pop music I used to hear when I was living in France several years ago. I really love how it sounds like something you could hear at a party (which the key points of the choreography emphasize) but there’s also a pretty clear and compelling emotional undercurrent (which the music video capitalizes on). And I appreciate how Golden Child is taking their music in a different direction. I think this is a great choice for them, and it fits in well with the more mature sound they’ve been building over the past couple of years.
However, I feel that “Burn It” as a song ultimately just doesn’t pack the same kind of punch that the music video does. The first time I watched the music video, I was so captivated by what I was seeing that I barely even registered the music in the background. I had to listen to it on its own and watch performances to get a feel for what it really sounded like. Even a couple of days later, I still remember the video way better than I do the actual song – though I will say I find the chorus/hook pretty catchy. I do think that “Burn It” pairs with its music video pretty well, but unfortunately, it ends up taking a backseat to all of the action. The song helps make the music video shine, but would be better if it were the other way around.
MY OVERALL INTEREST LEVEL
(NOTE: My options for each category are “Love,” “Like,” “Neutral,” “Not My Style,” or “Dislike.” But I rarely dislike anything, so I’ll mostly be using the other four.)
While I’m very fond of Golden Child, I do go back and forth on their music a bit. They have songs that I love, and then ones that I like fine but am a bit more ambivalent about. This is based on my initial reaction, but I have a feeling that “Burn It” is one of the latter. It’s a very solid effort overall, but I just don’t think the song itself is memorable enough for me to really latch on to. But I absolutely love the music video, and I know I’ll still be thinking about it long after promotions are over. All in all, I appreciate Golden Child’s creativity in this comeback – and I truly hope that others will take notice too.
(“Knee Jerk Reaction” is a column I created to talk about comebacks or debuts when I don’t have a lot of time to write in-depth reviews. A knee jerk reaction is like an automatic response, so it’s a post about my initial thoughts on the song, the music video, and the performance if it’s available. Compared to my reviews, everything is more stream of consciousness and less analytical. And everything is 100% my own opinion!)
SOURCES: Cover Image and music video belong to Woollim Entertainment.