I feel slightly embarrassed to admit it, but I genuinely don’t know ATEEZ that well. I could tell you the names of about three members, but I couldn’t correctly identify them in a group picture. And I’ve listened to all their songs at least once, but I only really remember a few. It’s seriously to that extent. It’s wild because I hear about ATEEZ everywhere and I know they’re so popular, but I just keep missing my opportunity to get into them. It seems like every time they had a comeback that I’d have liked, I had something else going on. I’ve felt low-key guilty about this for a while, so I’ve decided that my lack of ATEEZ knowledge ends in 2021. Since they’ll be appearing on Kingdom, a show I most definitely will be watching, I thought I’d take the chance to check out their latest comeback.
When I watched the music video for “Fireworks (I’m the One),” I could definitely see why ATEEZ has so many fans. The song is a blend of trap and EDM, a style that has often proven to be popular with the international – particularly Western – crowd. It actually reminds me of the type of music I’d hear when I used to live in France. And though the word “fireworks” normally makes one think of something dynamic and explosive, the song is more of a slow burn that picks up in the chorus. It’s not really my thing, but it’s an interesting choice. The track is powerful, the dance is hard-hitting, the music video is high-quality, and the aesthetics are edgy – all very on-trend for boy groups these days. And ATEEZ does have a certain “it factor” that’s hard to me to describe in words, but is easy to sense when seeing them in action.
That being said, I must confess that I was a little underwhelmed. “Fireworks (I’m the One)” is an appealing song, and it has a strong chorus that I can easily remember. However, it’s just not really the kind of music that I personally vibe with, so I don’t see myself listening to it over and over again. Also, I don’t really find it as exciting as the ATEEZ singles I’m familiar with. I enjoy their songs like “Wonderland” and “Answer” because they stand out from others in terms of both melody and energy. When I heard those, I got a strong sense of ATEEZ’s specific aura and what they were bringing to the table. Those songs felt like they were setting trends, while “Fireworks (I’m the One)” sounds more like they’re following them.
“Wonderland” and “Answer” also both had music videos with really unique points of view; even though I haven’t seen either one in a while, I still remember certain cinematography and production design choices that caught my eye. On the other hand, “Fireworks (I’m the One)” seems to be more based on a particular setting and is working with a specific kind of aesthetic (my personal read was “rebels in a desolate wasteland”). There’s nothing wrong with aesthetic music videos – they make up most of K-pop, after all – but they rarely leave a lasting impression for me since that’s not what appeals to me most.
What DOES appeal to me most is choreography, so I always try to reserve judgment until I can get a good sense of it. My feelings about a K-pop song tend to be more accurate when I’m watching a performance rather than a music video, and I hear so many good things about ATEEZ as performers. So I knew I had to look at the choreography for “Fireworks (I’m the One)” – and my interest was definitely more piqued when I did. Since the song is a slow burn that only ramps up in certain parts, the dance adds some dimension to it and makes it more dynamic. The rap verses especially pack a lot more punch onstage. I always read comments saying that ATEEZ has tons of stage presence, and I can definitely see it. It really does feel like they’re tearing up the stage, though they’re slightly more restrained than the time I saw them live. So even though I wasn’t that taken by the song or the music video, the strong choreography was a plus.
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.)
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem “Fireworks (I’m the One)” is the right comeback to get me into ATEEZ. I think it could have happened if I had paid more attention during “Wonderland” or “Answer,” but I sadly didn’t. And while I believe “Fireworks (I’m the One)” is definitely on-brand for ATEEZ and shows how just talented they are, it’s not a match for me personally. However, I’m fully confident that watching them on Kingdom will definitely help me become more acquainted with them. Last year, I was in a similar situation with The Boyz – I didn’t know anything about them, and was pretty ambivalent about their music. But I became interested in them through Road to Kingdom, and then I looked back through their discography and saw (technically heard) some of their songs in a new light. I’m sure the same will happen with ATEEZ, and maybe I’ll even come back to this song in a few months and enjoy it more. I certainly hope so.
(“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: Music video and featured image belong to KQ Entertainment.