Knee Jerk Reaction: “Outsider” by BTOB

I have to be honest here: I don’t listen to BTOB all that frequently. I think they’re amazingly talented (particularly in singing), and they definitely have some stellar songs. However, most of their music is generally not the kind I’m naturally drawn to. Despite that, I’ve always been fond of them and I make sure to check in on every comeback. My overall interest in them was definitely renewed by watching Kingdom, so I feel like I’ve just been through a small rediscovery phase. All of the recent comebacks from Kingdom participants have definitely gone up a level in terms of creativity and quality – even though those groups were all great to begin with – so I was very excited to see how that post-show magic would work on BTOB.

“Outsider” is a fun number that mixes classy jazz and upbeat swing with a funky beat and cool vibes. BTOB has dabbled in swing and jazz style music before, so it’s no wonder they pull it off flawlessly. Although they’re idols who are often praised for their vocals – and deservedly so – I like how this particular track strikes a nice balance between singing and rapping. Since a couple members are fulfilling their military service right now, having two vocalists and two rappers is a little different from BTOB’s normal dynamic. But they’ve definitely made it work, and it’s wonderful to see that each member really gets his chance to shine.

I want to take a quick moment and highlight the lyrics written by Minhyuk and Peniel, which I immensely appreciate. “Outsider” is about being dissatisfied with the monotony of everyday life, expressing the desire to break away from the norm and do your own thing. Perhaps it’s because I’m close in age to BTOB’s older members, or maybe it’s because I literally spend my whole life doing nothing but working and sleeping (and blogging)… but I can definitely relate. I also really like how Minhyuk and Peniel took the word “outsider” and gave it their own specific meaning. Normally, that word carries a bit of a negative connotation and refers to people who don’t belong and don’t fit in. So I respect how this song makes it a more positive thing, reminding us that it really is okay to do your own thing and be different.

BTOB’s music video is super entertaining, paying homage to certain well-known films. Changsub is a burnt-out office worker dreaming of a Great Gatsby moment, recreating that famous shot where Leonardo DiCaprio holds out a glass of wine as fireworks sparkle in the background. Peniel faces off against the other members as James Bond while rocking some stunning two-tone hair. Eunkwang continues the zombie trend that’s all the rage in K-pop right now, playing an undead zombie looking for love like in Warm Bodies. And Minhyuk’s scenes are a nod to Sin City, which is mostly based on the black and white aesthetic and (thankfully) not as gory as the real movie. As a film school snob graduate and pop culture snob enthusiast, I’m living for all of the references here. The production design is excellent, and everything is very well done.

And per usual, I definitely enjoy the choreography. I think it’s so cool and slick, and I like how they incorporated a bunch of classic dance moves from different eras and styles. While BTOB can certainly dance, they’re not really known for it – which became a little obvious when they went up against a bunch of performance-oriented groups on Kingdom. However, I think they’ve done a really good job of making the choreography work for them here. Yes, the moves are a lot simpler and more straightforward compared to what we see from many boy groups these days. But BTOB executes everything so cleanly, and I can clearly see the care and attention they put into getting each and every move exactly right. It’s a great example of when less can be more. I think they learned a lot from doing large scale performances on Kingdom, and it’s awesome to see how they’ve drawn from those experiences and implemented that here.


(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.)

CategoryMy Opinion
Music VideoLove

BTOB dropping a jazzy song and a movie-themed music video isn’t necessarily a huge surprise to me, since it’s ground they’ve already covered before. They did similar film tributes with “Movie” back in 2017, and one of their Kingdom performances was inspired by La La Land. But this area is clearly a mine of creativity for them, and it’s an environment where they thrive. So I’m thrilled to see them continue exploring these ideas if that’s what they want – and honestly, there are so many options and paths they could take that it would probably never get old. I’m not totally sure how much time I’ll actually spend on “Outsider” right now, since I’m still in the middle of catching up with all the current comebacks. (IT NEVER ENDS.) But I have a feeling that once things finally settle down, it might re-emerge on my playlists.

(“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 belongs to Cube Entertainment. Feature image is of BTOB at Inkigayo and can be found on the show’s Twitter account – original tweet here.

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