Newer K-pop fans would be forgiven for not knowing who N.Flying are. Despite being a rookie group from a sizeable agency, the guys haven’t made a Korean comeback in nearly two years. Before that, they presented two very different sounds. Debut single “Awesome“ shone a spotlight on their rap/rock sound, but felt a little too cliché for its own good. Follow-up “Lonely“ impressed with its evocative melody, but at the expense of the group’s sense of youth and fun. New single “The Real” may have arrived much later than it should have, but offers the most convincing balance of styles that N.Flying have given us yet.
There are only a handful of idol rock groups within K-pop, and with many of them aging and maturing, there’s a hole for the brand of spunky power pop found on “The Real”. The song is a concentrated explosion of energy from the get-go, bursting out of the gate with its crunchy guitar riff. The verses retain a hip-hop sense of flow without sacrificing melody, and the chorus does a nice job balancing hookiness with bursts of more staccato refrains.
In fact, the overall arrangement of “The Real” shares much in common with Seventeen‘s similarly energetic pop. The genre is obviously quite different here, but this is rock music arranged as if performed by an idol dance group. There are plenty of appeals and asides designed directly for the stage. You can easily identify the moments meant for winks and exclamatory expressions and heart signs. While this may blunt some of N.Flying’s credibility, it gives the song plenty of character.