As most of you already know, things are rather busy for me lately. There are lots of big changes happening, and I haven’t had time to write reactions for three months (cry). Normally, I’d just cut my losses and start over in the new year… but there are so many fall comebacks that I really enjoyed and want to talk about.
Plus my perfectionism demands that I finish what I started. So I’ve created a counterpart to my “Knee Jerk Reaction” column, which I’m calling the “Delayed Reaction.” There’s not a lot of difference between the two in format, but a “Delayed Reaction” is notably not a first impressions post. I’ve already heard and seen everything – probably multiple times – and I’ve had some time to ruminate and form more solid opinions. From now on, I’ll be using this column for any reaction that comes out well after promotions for a release are over. And first up is ATEEZ – a truly delayed reaction, because they’ve made a whole other comeback in the time it took me to write this.
ATEEZ is perhaps best known for their strong and powerful music, but they decided to change things up for their September comeback. Before dropping their mini album (Zero: Fever Pt.3), they asked fans to vote on what the title track should be. Both candidates highlighted styles that the group haven’t shown a lot of so far (at least, to my knowledge): the bright and uplifting “Eternal Sunshine,” and the sensual and alluring “Deja Vu.” The latter obviously ended up as the song of choice, and I personally agree with those results. As someone who loves the more mature and sophisticated concepts in K-pop, especially for boy groups, “Deja Vu” just naturally appealed to me more. But although sexy songs often get popularity boosts from making fans’ hearts race, that’s not all that “Deja Vu” is. ATEEZ put a lot of work into this comeback, and it certainly shows.
I’m not an expert in music composition by any means, but I personally think the production for “Deja Vu” is excellent all around. Everything about it is just so darn appealing, especially the melody – it’s pleasant and easy to remember, and it suits the members’ vocals so well. As a super casual ATEEZ listener, my main impression of them is a group bursting with energy, and many of their title tracks mirror that. It’s pretty cool to hear them excel at a subtler and more enticing style of singing, and it provides a nice change of pace. The arrangement is also quite well-crafted, using sleek and polished instrumentation as the foundation while seamlessly blending in more intense standout moments where ATEEZ can really shine.
While I’m always naturally drawn to choreography, I find the one for “Deja Vu” very interesting. I think it’s because it’s much more layered and detailed than it initially appears, and it really helps ATEEZ display their versatility. There are some great moments where the dancing leans into the songs’s more sensual nature, with lots of body rolls and sexy gestures – those hip swivels during the hook are definitely a lasting mental image – but there are also many movements that are more dynamic and pack some power. You’d think that would look unnatural with the music, but it actually establishes an intriguing visual dynamic by directly contrasting the track’s overall smooth feel. ATEEZ has a reputation as a group that tears up the stage, so I think the choreography is cleverly designed to let them show off their new seductive sides while still tapping into that powerful energy.
The song and dance for “Deja Vu” both caught my attention, but I must admit I wasn’t taken by the music video. On the technical side, there’s nothing to find fault with: it’s high quality, it has a lot of interesting shots and effects, and the styling and production design are top notch as always. I do find some of the camera movements and cuts a little choppy for my tastes, but I can see the team was making a choice and I respect that. (And the shooting style does lend itself well to the overall vibe of the video.) But in terms of engagement, it just didn’t grab at me. Having watched ATEEZ on Kingdom, I know that they’re super imaginative and they have a lot of ideas that made their stages highly engaging. I recognize not every comeback can match the high production value of Kingdom – after all, many groups go on the show to have that creative freedom – but I guess I was hoping the visual aspects of “Deja Vu” would reflect more of that impressive skill set.
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.)
Back when ATEEZ released “Fireworks” in March, I said in my reaction that I didn’t know much about them aside from their names and a couple of their songs. (I know, I know! For whatever reason, I’m super behind the times with this group.) Since then, things have *slightly* changed. I’d still consider myself a casual listener more than anything else, but I’ve certainly learned a lot more about them from watching Kingdom. I’ve always been aware they have amazing stage presence, and seeing their fascinating performances of “Wonderland” and “Answer” – the two songs of theirs that I actually know well – definitely piqued my interest and made me anticipate their first post-show comeback.
When it comes to “Deja Vu” specifically, it hasn’t quite made me into an ATEEZ fan just yet. I certainly like the song itself a lot, and I’ve found myself coming back for many listens over the past few months. But I didn’t spend a ton of time on the comeback as a whole, and I feel like my level of interest hasn’t changed much. I’m still very open to getting into ATEEZ, but I’m just waiting for a song that will really hook me and bring me into the fandom. I’ll break continuity and say it didn’t happen with their newer comeback, because the title track is the original song they created for the Kingdom finale and it’s not new to me – though I will say, it’s definitely a great single. (If I have time, I’ll try to do a write-up about it too.) But I have faith that ATEEZ will pull me in sooner rather than later, and I’m definitely looking forward to what they bring in 2022.
(“Delayed Reaction” is the counterpart to my “Knee Jerk Reaction.” This version of the column is for when I’m behind on my posts, and I use it for releases that are either over two weeks old or have already finished promotions – whichever comes first. And since I’m posting so long after an artist has made their comeback or debut, it means I’ve had some more time to reflect on everything and the post is less about my initial instinctual reactions. But everything is still in a less formal format and 100% my own opinion!)
SOURCES: Music video and featured image belong to KQ Entertainment.