[Review] Sexy Zone deliver greatness with “Run”

I first heard (most of) Run during a live performance back in late March, and I knew right away that this was going to be a big pop moment. It’s rare that a song ticks so many of my musical boxes at once. But due to pandemic postponements, it’s been an excruciatingly long wait to hear the full studio recording.

If you’ve followed my “Top 100 K-Pop Songs of All-Time” countdown, you’ll know that there are certain musical approaches that I tend to covet: a constant sense of rising momentum, rock-tinged instrumentals and celebratory brass, big power notes and explosive choruses. Even one of these aspects can make a track really click with me. It’s almost impossible to find them all within a single song. But to my surprise and delight, Run is that song.

Sexy Zone have been on a roll this past year, releasing one killer single after another. Run acts as a theme to member Kento’s new buddy cop drama Midnight Runner, and harnesses the excitement of that genre. Right from the start, the track pummels us with its mammoth brass riff, bounding forward on galloping percussion and a jam-packed instrumental. The first verse snowballs from there, cresting along the guitar-fueled rhythm with waves of backing vocals adding extra heft. The song grows more intense as we enter the first part of its pre-chorus, only to hit a momentary lull that sets up the chorus for punchy, maximalist fun.

Run’s second verse plays with this energy further, drifting in and out of ultra-rhythmic segments as the groups’ vocals power on. Fuma’s raw, deeper-toned voice has always been a key ingredient in Sexy Zone’s best work, and it’s utilized at full ferocity here, offering moments of sheer exhilaration. Kento is undeniably strong as well, performing with a forcefulness that really suits the song. Then, there’s that chorus. It hits like a ton of bricks every time it comes around. The melody is structured as exclamation point after exclamation point, climactic strings whirling in the background to craft a rousing, almost disorienting sense of movement.

Since the inception of The Bias List, I’ve set a precedent never to give a song a perfect score right off the bat. After all, music needs time to fully reveal itself. And in the strictest sense of that rule, I guess the precedent still stands given the fact that I’ve lived with most of Run for months now. But, that shouldn’t dull its achievement. This is an absolutely superb single.

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IATFB says: Gotta admit I was skeptical that it was going to be this good even after reading the review, but it is undeniably catchy, keeps pushing but has a nice sense of control where it doesn’t just become noise, and it carries those qualities from start to finish.

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