[Review] TEEN TOP tread water a bit with predictable “Run Away”

There aren’t many pre-2012 boy groups left standing in K-pop, and even fewer that are still actively releasing music. With that in mind, you’ve got to give it up for TEEN TOP. Their output has never been the most popular or chart-conquering, but they keep chugging along with consistency. “Run Away” is taken from their ninth (!) mini album, and maintains the group’s stature in the K-pop industry — even if it’s a little too trendy for its own good.

While others have moved on, songs like “Run Away” still feel mired in K-pop’s waning obsession with tropical sounds. This is disappointing, especially since TEEN TOP are in a position to try new things. Their fan base has been solidified, and a group of their age is unlikely to compete directly with the industry’s many rookie groups. With this in mind, simply regurgitating overused sounds seems like a reductive approach. So, “Run Away” is unoriginal. But, is it any good?

Within the vast tropical pop realm, I’d put this track squarely in the middle of the pack. A decent chorus would have elevated its standing, but TEEN TOP are intent on simply repeating the titular lyrics with a few added “oh ohs” thrown in for good measure. In contrast, the dramatic pre-chorus pulses with unexplored potential. The members’ voices are layered in a 2018 SHINee-style arrangement, suggesting majestic sounds to come. Instead, the track collapses into a laid-back, mostly-instrumental hook that does little to inspire.

“Run Away” then segues into a post-chorus trap-rap breakdown (because, of course it does…), stalling any momentum built up to that point. The guys are skilled enough to bring this to modest life, but I much prefer their more melodically ambitious title tracks.

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