By: Kya Brodgon | 24, February, 2023
Six months after their last album release, and over a year since their last full group comeback (welcome back Eric, we missed you!) - 11 member K-pop group The Boyz are back with their 8th mini album, Be Awake. Since debuting in December of 2017, The Boyz have been known to constantly release both classic fun pop songs, and angstier moody rock-esq songs. The second album in their Be ___ series, Be Awake is an exploration back into more dark, sultry sounds like their past songs “Reveal” and “The Stealer.”
In an obvious juxtaposition from their last title track “Whisper,” Be Awake’s title track is aptly named “Roar.” Following the group's lore of fallen angels and other supernatural beings, “Roar” has a catchy back beat and a whistle riff that is sure to be stuck in your head after one listen. The hauntingness of the melody is captivating, and the lyrics help sell the message of desire. Singing about a love that they will defy the rules to get, the bridge goes: “If it’s forbidden love / 그 벌로 추락해 버려 미쳐버려도 / No doubt. Don’t care.” (translation: “If it’s forbidden love / Even if I crash and go crazy as punishment / No doubt. Don’t care.”).
While the choreography is more subtle compared to what some other groups have produced recently, it fits both the style of the song and the style of The Boyz to a T. Showing off their incredible synchronization skills, as well as allowing each member to have their own moment to shine, this is definitely a dance I can see becoming the next TikTok trend within the K-pop community. I’m excited to see all the ways their dance skills are shown off during music show performances.
While the album as a whole exudes the same sensuousness as the title track, two songs on the album depart from that vibe. “Blah Blah” is an upbeat, danceable track that gives a good summer vibe even though it was released in February. My favorite of the two, however, is the slow ballad called “Horizon.” The soft acoustic guitar riff separates this song from the others on the album, and also acts like a cradle for the listener's heart. With lyrics written by members Ji “Q” Changmin, Kim Sunwoo, and Eric Sohn, “Horizon” is a song that is obviously filled with love and warmth from the group toward their fans.
In an Instagram comment by songwriter Cho Yoonkyung who is top credited for this song, she says “The start of the song starts with the draft Q wrote. [...] The temperature and vibes that fill the base are really warm and pretty. I brought that vibe, added the comfort I wanted to receive during my 20s, and completed the lyrics.” Sung entirely in Korean, this song talks about someone becoming one’s “horizon,” and being by one's side during one’s toughest times. The chorus; “긴 밤은 내게 유난히 / 차가운데 / 가장 따스한 물결로 넌 끌어올려 날 / 울고 있던 내 곁에서 / 수평선이 되어 준 / 넌 나의 모든 숨” (translation: “Long nights are especially cold for me / With the warmest waves, you lift me up / By my side as I cried / You became the horizon / You are my every breath”), is exactly the kind of comforting message everyone needs to hear on bad days. “Horizon” is definitely a song I will be playing when I need an extra source of warmth.
A stylistic stand out on the album, “Diamond Life” tells the story of falling in love for the first time, and one's outlook on life-changing because of it. However, this is not your typical first love song. With vocaloid stylings and an intense, upbeat melody throughout, “Diamond Life” truly sparkles in your headphones as you listen. I’ve been humming the vocal run they do on the lyric “I’m in diamond life” ever since the first listen. My favorite part is in the chorus, “더 깊이 난 빠져 가 Can’t stop / 기분은 High / 충돌한 순간 I feel alive / Diamond Life 너야 / 아름답게 날 이끈 My heaven.” (translation: “I fall deeper, can’t stop / My mood is high / The moment we collide, I feel alive / My diamond life is you / My heaven that led me beautifully.”) If I don’t see this song on future tour setlists, we’re going to have some serious problems.
I’m really excited that we are back with a darker sound and concept from The Boyz. While I thoroughly enjoy softer and boisterous songs like “Timeless” and “C.O.D.E.” from Be Aware, I think having this album contrast the last really works within their discography. I’m excited to see if and how the Be ___ series continues, and what more of the lore we will explore as it does.
Congrats on a successful comeback, boys! Wishing you smooth and fun promotions, I can’t wait to see what else 2023 has in store for you.