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TXT: The First EP

Big Hit’s Second Boy Group Debut

Big Hit is doing very well for themselves. Up until now, they’ve been making ridiculous amounts of money and enjoying great media exposure from their mega-group BTS. Big Hit has other artists under their label, but they haven’t made another boy group since BTS back in 2013. Speculation of a new group to follow BTS has been around for some time, but only recently have things picked up. Within the past few months, they’ve introduced teasers for a new group. That group is TXT, and on March 4th, they finally debuted.

Following up BTS sounds scary, but the teasers released before TXT’s debut made it clear that their vibe would be different from their elders. While BTS debuted with an even stronger hip-hop vibe than they have now, BTS’s sound always hovers around their rap line in harmony with the vocal line. BTS’s rapping is more intense.

TXT, so far, looks like it’s more vocal-focused, and that the raps aren’t as savage. From what I can see, it also looks like all five of them seem to be balanced in dancing ability. The concepts for TXT are pastel and lighter in color. They’re practically all teenagers, so a lot of what we’ve seen from them involve fun and innocent antics. Their name stands for Tomorrow X Together, as in Tomorrow By Together. It’s all about the boys being together and being able to get through anything as long as they have each other. I like this, it builds on BTS, and makes me have more faith that Big Hit is invested in the health and happiness of their artists. The K-Pop industry is grueling and painful on an idol’s body, and I’d like to think Big Hit is careful to make sure their artists are at least mentally in a good place. But enough about BTS, this is TXT’s time for now. It’s good that TXT has a different vibe to them. My biggest concern about TXT was the scrutiny and comparisons to BTS. However, they look like they’re going to be a different kind of group altogether.

TXT’s debut is a mini album of five songs, titled The Dream Chapter: Star. Clearly, there’s going to be some storyline throughout their career, as it’s still working wonders for BTS, and this could be a trademark of Big Hit groups. I’m not exactly ready to call them phenomenal as a result; I’d like to see more of what they do. Still, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have these five songs on repeat for the past couple of days. I really like them. It’s exciting to be able to witness a group debut with fresh choreography, and with the lyricism we’ve come to expect from Big Hit talent.

For starters, I need to talk about that choreo. I’m totally in love with it. The premiere music video is for the second song on the album, “CROWN.” This is my second favorite song on the album. The dancing starts off with the five boys—Yeonjun, Soobin, Taehyun, Beomgyu, and Hueningkai—sitting on the floor, legs out ahead of them. To the beat of the music, they stay seated, but move their arms and legs in intricate formations, both individually and with amazing synchronicity. I’ve watched the performance videos of it too many times already. They weave in between each other and change who’s singing in the center flawlessly. One of my favorite parts involves them linking hands and going under each other’s arms to switch positions. It’s all so smart, and they make involved dance moves look so easy. I really encourage you all to watch because I wish I could dance like that.

To talk about the lyrics for “CROWN,” they’re also equally bold and fresh. They do admittedly have the same theme of self-love present in many BTS songs, but the actual lyrics are so intriguing in how they present the issue. They use metaphors in a magical realism kind of way. The singer has horns on his head, making him different. He feels alone and ugly because of it. However, he meets a boy with wings who is experiencing the same thing. They are both different, even from each other, but they can accept their differences and accept each other. The boy with horns starts to think of it as a crown. I love fantasy. The dreamy quality of the graphics in the video and the fantastical metaphors show a younger perspective of self-love. It makes me think of finding acceptance in a high school setting.

The other songs are equally fun to listen to. The first song almost sets the tone for the playful youth aspect with the title “Blue Orangeade.” I’ve never even heard of a drink like blue orangeade, but it sounds like something kids would love on a hot summer day by the pool. That mental image reflects the song as well. It’s upbeat and fun. In fact, all the songs on the EP have such a bouncy electronic sound. It’s fitting for a new group with tons of energy.

“Blue Orangeade” is exactly the kind of song you would jam to in the summer. With spring fast approaching, it can make for a good ring in to the life and greenery soon to come. This song is basically a sweet love song. The lyrics describe the singer and his love interest as complimentary colors to each other—blue and orange. What I like about it is how it emphasizes differences again. The two are opposites in many respects, but that doesn’t matter. The complimentary colors is just another way to say opposites attract. There’s a theme of individuality and being yourself already developing in TXT’s words, and I’m totally here for it. I appreciate the balance of meaning and joy. A song doesn’t have to be slow or quiet to say something important. Pop songs that get lots of airtime can have a little more substance to them, as TXT proves. Seriously, there are many American artists who can learn from this group, and the oldest in TXT is only 19.

My favorite song on the album is, hands down, “Our Summer.” This is one of the catchiest choruses I’ve heard in a long time. It brings a smile to my face whenever I hear it. It’s a great companion to “Blue Orangeade” with the theme of summer. This song has a lot of imagery of smiles, ocean waves, and all the vibrant things that make summer so beloved. It’s the perfect summer fling song. It has all those drum beats and techno sounds in a lot of pop songs today. It’s also another song where all the vocals shine. However, I have to really appreciate Taehyun here more than anything.

That chorus. Taehyun sings the chorus in “Our Summer” and it’s one of my favorite things to come out in the K-Pop industry in a long time. From the quicker verses, the chorus switches over to a slower beat. It feels a little more like a chant, like it would be incredible to experience in a stadium. I just want to fist pump in the air when it comes on. Taehyun’s voice is angelic, enough said. I haven’t gotten to know them enough to match their voices to their faces, but Taehyun totally grabbed my attention with this song. I adore everything about it and it’s become my go to song when I walk to the train. This is the song that makes me look forward to hearing more of TXT’s vocal ranges. I highly recommend listening to “Our Summer” if there’s only one song you want to hear from this album.

A popular track that I’ve seen on Twitter has been “Cat & Dog.” This one easily has the most rap elements to it. Still, the beat is light. The base isn’t heavy. It sounds more like an electronic xylophone instead. “Cat & Dog” is another cute love song. It’s a little weird reading the lyrics in English, but the point is that the singer wants to be like a pet that’s with their love 24/7. It’s puppy love! Get it? It’s super catchy, and I’ve often been finding myself humming the tune at work. This one is probably the most catchy out of them all, which is why Twitter is in love with it. I really don’t have too much to say about this one, other than the fact that it’s a joy to listen to. For English listeners, there are a few lines in English that you can sing with ease. I think this one has a seamless blend of English to Korean, making it an accessible hybrid that keeps Big Hit on the international radar. Whoever writes their music and arranges the beats knows what they’re doing. I love this song, and it immediately raises my energy level when I listen to it.

Another thing worthy of mention, this song brings up the idea of differences bringing people together. In “Cat & Dog,” the singer is the dog and the person they’re singing to is a cat. It’s fun wordplay on pet names and such, but cats and dogs are known to be opposites. Just like blue and orange, and similar to the boy with horns and the boy with wings in the previous songs. I like making these connections in TXT’s debut. Each complimenting pair is a fresh take on relationship songs I haven’t heard before. I love all the metaphors going on in this album. It takes songs that would otherwise be nothing more than earworms and gives them purpose.

Finishing off the EP is a song with what I think is a lovely title, “Nap of a Star.” It ties right in with the album name and is the slowest song on the album. Lyrically, this is the most mature of the songs. It speaks to the growth and introspective lyrics we should be seeing in the future from TXT. This song is so precious. They about being with someone even when you’re far apart. They hold the dreams dear because that’s all that’s left of their relationship. Despite having cried and mourned for this relationship that they used to have, the ending shows hints that the singer realizes it might be time to move on in life.

Listening to this song is so calming. It feels like falling into a dream. They give each of the boys a chance to shine with their vocals. The dominating background is, for the most part, a lone guitar. My favorite part is easily the bridge. Each of the five boys takes turns singing shorter lines remembering the moment the pair actually separated. Their voices sound a little far off in the distance. It matches with the almost melancholy reflection of everything that came before in the verses and choruses. I think what also makes this song effective is that it doesn’t really change its pace or beat too much. It makes the song feel longer than it is. It’s a little deceptive with time, a lot like being in that weird in between stage of awake vs. asleep. I think whoever arranged this one is a genius. This is one of the three songs that have BigHit’s founder and CEO Bang Shihyuk involved. Bang has worked with amazing talent in his career, and not just in founding BTS. He has written and/or produced for 2AM, Rain, and Wonder Girls, to name a few. He knows what he’s doing when it comes to arranging music. Luckily, it’s starting to look as if TXT will be another success story in his book, Nap of a Star.

TXT has made a fantastic start to what will hopefully be a long career. Each song has care put into it, while also being lively and upbeat enough to put them on the radio. I’m excited to see what TXT does in the future. I’m optimistic that they will be a great addition to Big Hit’s roster, and hopefully one of the next big acts in K-Pop. Check them out below and see what you think.

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TXT: The First EP
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