Some say that K-pop is stuck in the 90s, and there hasn’t been a release this year that supports that statement as strongly as BtoB‘s “Press Play“. Taking spoonfuls of inspiration from 90s boy band pop, “Press Play” is rife with classic production techniques, melodies, and styles, aptly capable of making even the latest of bloomers nostalgic of the glorious era.
Where JJ Project (another rookie group that debuted this year) fed off the likes of Seo Taiji & Boys in their exhilarating debut single, it’s the internationally beloved American boy band Backstreet Boys that served as BtoB’s template in constructing “Press Play”. The biting snares and delicate blend of guitar leads with glimmering melodies hints at this influence the strongest in “My Girl” and the lead single, “WOW“. If you remember “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)“, which I don’t know how you wouldn’t, then one listen to “WOW” and you’ll immediately recognize it as its 2012 born-again double.
Yet, even with derivative details strong and present, “Press Play” is fresh and contemporary, polished beautifully and tailored to the members’ strengths better than they were able to show earlier this year. And even then, the most important takeaway of “Press Play” is that it fulfills the one task I had felt was poorly played in BtoB’s debut EP; these guys suddenly feel alive and distinguished as a K-pop boy band. This is a musical direction no one else under Cube Entertainment could have touched without compromising their own (B2ST being the prime example), and I think BtoB have done an excellent job of making it their own, showing immense promise for their endeavors down the road in the process.