[Review] TXT keep things simple on bright & energetic debut with “Crown”

One of my biggest K-pop new year’s wishes was that boy groups would ditch the moodiness and go brighter, so I was delighted when it was announced that Big Hit Entertainment’s new group TXT would debut with an upbeat, youthful concept. Based on agency clout alone, the guys were destined for massive out-of-the-gate success — the kind of success that could potentially steer an entire industry. Because of that, I’m thankful that “Crown” feels fresh and energetic.

Much of the lead-up to TXT’s debut has been shrouded in mystery, driven by a morse code teaser theme that replays as “Crown” begins. In contrast, the song itself is relatively simple. Beyond the odd/awkward horn-as-puberty metaphor, there aren’t layers and layers of lore to decode. Instead, “Crown” is a shot of cheerful pop, well-performed and disarmingly catchy. Its instrumental largely sidesteps the trendy synth blips of the day, preferring a more classic electro bounce that hinges on one particularly sticky riff.

With that said, the real draw of “Crown” are the guys themselves, who drive the track with bucket-loads of personality. The rhythmic chorus doesn’t work without them, dependent on a call-and-response structure that plays with vocal filters to addictive effect. There’s some wonderful textures here, but the effects never go overboard.

The verses are a little more forgettable, but hit a few nice melodic moments while building to a harmony-rich pre-chorus. If I had my way I would’ve removed any hint of trap elements (including that eye-rolling “skrrrt” in the second verse), but otherwise “Crown” is a very strong debut that feels as if it’s going to enjoy real longevity as we move into spring and summer.

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