It feels like ONEUS are a little late to the game, releasing the music video to their Road to Kingdom finale track Come Back Home over a month after the series ended. I guess they’re positioning it as a prologue for their upcoming comeback rather than an epilogue to the series. Thus far, Kingdom has boosted the sales of Golden Child, VERIVERY and TOO, so I’ll be interested to see if this trend continues when ONEUS and ONF make their return in a few weeks.
I’ve already written about Come Back Home when discussing Road to Kingdom, but an official music video warrants an official song review. However, not much has changed when it comes to my opinion on the song. Over the past few days, I’ve been breaking down my all-time favorite K-pop tracks, and a few common themes have popped up. One of the big ones could be summed up with the phrase “structural experimentation that maintains momentum and continuity.” That may sound like some pretentious thesis statement, but for me it’s a vital ingredient. Come Back Home embraces the “experimentation” part of that equation, but forgets momentum and continuity. So, we end up with a few great moments that never come together to create a great song.
When it comes down to it, this is the limitation of music designed for a performance competition show. Too often, K-pop underestimates the ability of a dynamite song to draw attention on its own, convinced instead that a track needs to constantly transform into disparate segments to combat short attention spans. If Come Back Home had stuck to the sound and energy of its opening verse, it could have been one of the year’s highlights. Instead, we get a lurching chorus that totally upends its momentum, followed by an awful trap-rap verse that might as well have been ripped from another piece of music entirely.
This is a shame, because there are some great vocals within Come Back Home’s hodgepodge arrangement. Its bridge is particularly gorgeous, but feels like a distinct piece of an incongruous whole. And without that connective through-line, it’s hard to enjoy Come Back Home‘s highlights. Here’s hoping the official comeback opts for a more cohesive approach.
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