[Review] The T-Bird make debut with surprisingly simplistic “Rock Star”

I’m in love with the idea behind The T-Bird and The Pink Ladies — two project groups taking on a musical theater concept. K-pop is ready for some new sounds, and this conceit has the potential to be really fun. The Pink Ladies’ “God Girl” was a great first step, and has only grown more enjoyable with time. In comparison, The T-Birds’ “Rock Star” feels a little undercooked. The ingredients are there, but the song is too simplistic to stand out.

Rather than go full-on Broadway, the track positions itself as a retro-funk workout that doesn’t stray too far from familiar boy group tropes. The theatricality comes from the vocal performance, which is much more full-throated than we’re used to. The arrangement is broad, with solid power notes throughout and surprisingly velvety vocal tones. For this reason alone, I’d love to hear what else this configuration of performers could tackle. “Rock Star” is like a dance track delivered by a vocal ballad group, and that’s pretty refreshing.

Unfortunately, the song loses some luster when it gets to the chorus. It’s dominated more by its titular chant than the melody that follows, too repetitive to take advantage of the group’s charms. The production seems ready to soar, but this lockstep structure hems it in rather than egg it on. If you’re going to confidently dip your foot into camp territory, you might as well go the whole way. Even so, I’ll take The T-Bird’s kind of upbeat pop style over trap or future bass any day.

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