I don’t often write “buried treasure” posts for Japanese b-sides, but I almost made an exception for &TEAM’s Dropkick. As fate would have it, HYBE decided to release the song with its own music video and send the guys to promote it on music shows. That’s one hundred percent the correct choice, since Dropkick laps the underdeveloped War Cry in every way.
There’s a barely-alternate dimension where this is one of my favorite songs of the year. With crisper production, less vocal effects and a group more vocal-centric in general (*cough* *Golden Child* *cough*), we’d be talking a mid-9’s rating. After all, the track’s bones are strong. I adore its stabbing 80’s synths and climactic key change. Elements like this bring out the kind of cheesy, fist-pumping anthemicism (I just made that word up…) sound I tend to love. Songs like this get my energy going, and both K-pop and J-pop can always do with one more.
Dropkick‘s negative qualities are almost entirely due to HYBE’s house style. The vocals are needlessly shrill. I can’t tell if that’s because the guys are still growing into their voices or the effects-heavy arrangement gives high notes a robotic sheen that makes them sound more like a whine than a gutsy declaration. Whatever the case, this approach slightly dampens the overall effect by stripping away individual character and texture. I’m still dancing around my room with a hairbrush mic, but you might catch the occasional side-eye of concern in the mirror.