Pentagon is truly a group that’s been through so much. I’ve detailed their ups and downs in some posts before, and I probably will again once I resume my Road to Kingdom recaps. So this time, I’ll just say that last year was thankfully a turning point for them in many ways. They poured a lot of their emotions and experiences into their work, making some of the best music they’ve ever had (in my opinion). They appeared on Road to Kingdom and got some increased visibility, and all their efforts paid off: they FINALLY earned their very first music show win with their last comeback “Daisy.” So now that things are more stable for Pentagon, they’ve made a return to the more upbeat style of music they originally became known for.
“Do or Not” definitely sounds like a song of the feel-good variety. Primarily pushed by a pleasant strumming guitar, it radiates warmth and charm. And I like hearing all of Pentagon’s vocals layered together and sometimes even harmonizing – that’s weirdly rare in K-pop, an industry focused on groups with large numbers of people. There are a couple of scenes in the music video where some of the members are a band practicing in their living room. When I saw this, I realized that “Do or Not” kind of sounds like a lot of pop rock anthems that I used to listen to when I was in middle school and high school. I rarely listen to that style of music anymore, so that was also a nice nostalgic throwback.
Given that the arrangement of “Do or Not” gives off such positive vibes, I was a little surprised when I turned on the subtitles and saw it’s actually about telling someone to make up their mind and decide whether they’re into you or not. The essence of the song lies in the chorus (using English subtitles on the music video): “Say you like me or not / Just make up your mind now do or not / So what? I don’t care / Just stick with me or not / Do whatever you like do or not/ So what? I don’t care.” Since those words could naturally be interpreted in a frustrated or angry way, I was initially a little confused by what seemed to be a contrast between the song’s overly carefree mood and its thematic subject.
At the same time, I can tell from the music video that it’s supposed to be light-hearted. The basic story is that a girl is clearly being wishy-washy over the different members of Pentagon and refusing to commit to any of them. I feel like there were probably some re-enactments of K-Drama or manhwa moments in there, but I didn’t pick up on them because I’m not familiar with either. I did, however, notice that reference to La Boum when Kino lets the girl listen to his headphones. Since the energy of the music video and the song are so positive, it makes me think that the song isn’t about frustration in love but rather putting yourself out there and taking a chance. Like if things work out, that’s awesome; but if the person doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, that’s okay too. What’s important is that you tried and you said what you needed to say. It’s a very healthy point of view to take in these situations, and I think this is a great topic for a song. It’s so relatable and important to remember.
I’m not going to lie: I was a little concerned about what Pentagon’s latest comeback would be like because both of their main vocalists are currently fulfilling their military service. Many members of Pentagon are great singers, but Jinho and Hui both contribute a lot to the group’s signature sound (especially Hui as the designated composed) and have very powerful and recognizable voices. It was nice to see Hui in the music video and hear him in the recording – got a little emotional about that because I wasn’t prepared – but he’s not around for promotions anymore. Thankfully, my fears were put to rest once I heard “Do or Not.” While it’s not as vocally complex as some of Pentagon’s other songs, that means it’s a tune that’s comfortable for all the members. K-pop is so often about pulling out all the stops, but Pentagon has made the smart choice of sticking to something simple that lets their plentiful skill and talent shine through. It’s also nice how certain members get some more of the spotlight – I don’t think I’ve ever seen Yan An so much, and I’m so proud (bless him).
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.)
There’s something about “Do or Not” that’s so joyful and infectious. I can’t help but smile when I see Pentagon performing this song, and I’m *almost* tempted to sing along. Idols are pros at putting on their best faces and looking happy all the time, and there’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff we fans are completely unaware of. But I feel like I can sense Pentagon’s genuine happiness here; perhaps it’s because I’ve seen everything they’ve been through – including a KCON performance in 2018 when I knew there was a lot going on with them. Much like they poured their pain and hardships into last year’s music, they’re channeling their joy into this year’s comeback – and it shows.
While I like “Do or Not,” I don’t have as strong an attachment to it as Pentagon’s more recent work. As always, I’m not a person who repeatedly listens to feel-good songs -though I do believe the pop rock vibes helped offset my natural ambivalence in this case. I’m an angsty and emotional person at heart, so I’m more naturally drawn to their songs like “Dr. BeBe” and “Basquiat.” (Once I get back to doing my Road to Kingdom comebacks, I’ll tell you all about how I burst into tears watching their finale performance.) If I personally ranked “Do or Not” among Pentagon’s other singles, I’d say it’s probably somewhere in the middle. But I think this is the perfect song for where they are right now, and I’m all too content to bop along.
(“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 belongs to Cube Entertainment.