Last week, fan-favorite ‘Produce 101‘ spin-off group Rainz proved that the series could generate more than just one successful act. But while Rainz set the stage with a colorful collection of trainees, JBJ looks to break things wide open — debuting with some of the series’ most popular contestants among its ranks. The group has opted for a darker sound than Rainz, pulling from classic K-pop tropes with the impressive “Fantasy“.
Though the song hits hard from the very first moment, it has a tentative creep that instantly sets the instrumental apart from like-minded releases. The tempo is perched at an odd rate — too slow to be a full-blown dance track but much more energetic and interesting than your typical mid-tempo or ballad. This allows for enough empty space to let the sledgehammer synth bass stand as the song’s driving force. It’s an intensely theatrical production, even if its sense of bombast is more reserved than over-the-top.
The worst segments threaten to devolve into a lackluster version of Monsta X’s music, heavy on the tough-guy rap and forced swagger. But when focus is put on its sinuous melody, the song skirts past trends in favor of a more vintage K-pop approach. The pre-chorus is fantastic, with vocalist Taehyun delivering a uniquely sinister build that leads to the dramatic, militaristic chorus. It’s in these moments that “Fantasy” actually recalls debut-era EXO — a little cold and harsh but lifted by a fully-realized melodic hook. And once that electric guitar slams in for the climax, JBJ have more than proven their worth as yet another solid ‘Produce 101’-related project.