Song Review: Test Me by Xdinary Heroes

Today was packed with K-pop releases. HyunA, one of K-pop’s most charismatic soloists, made her comeback with Nabillera, but I wasn’t sold on the song’s weak hooks that seemed to ride on Hyuna’s presence to elevate it. There were 2 options left for me to review: Xdinary Heroes’ Test Me, or P1Harmony’s Doom Du Doom. While I liked Doom Du Doom quite a bit, I was slightly more convinced by Test Me’s unwavering brashness and the sinister atmosphere created by the song’s production. However, P1Harmony’s release is also worth checking out, especially if you are looking for a fun summer song with very catchy hooks and a two-part chorus.

When I checked out Xdinary Heroes’ debut song, Happy Death Day, I wasn’t too impressed, and it makes me happy that they have stepped up their game. Test Me, while imperfect, is quite successful at portraying the unapologetically rebellious energy that judging from its music video, the song was trying to express.

Hooks
I’m quite fond of the melodies used in Test Me. They gave off an almost sinister, reckless vibe, that grows more addictive over time. They aren’t overly complex, but it isn’t simple to the point of seeming lazy and uninspired.

The main hooks of the song lie in the chorus, sing the song’s title, ‘Test Me’ as a recurring motif. While it may not be as effective as NCT Dream’s use of the same technique in Beatbox, it is surprisingly sticky, and it makes me feel compelled to listen to it over again.

There is another phrase used which is another central hook of the song, namely the ‘Ooooo’. What helps is the melody they used to pair with it is very memorable, and that is a huge plus. If a song is to use this kind of lyrics as a hook, it feels thrown away if there isn’t a solid melody to back it up, but it is very successful in the case of Test Me.

Finally, I would like to say that the hooks of Test Me seem to have great longevity, and I only grow fonder of them with every listen.

9/10

Production
As a K-band, rather than a typical K-pop group, Xdinary Heroes is bound to stick to using certain instruments within all their songs, so it is only fair that I evaluate them with a slightly different standard from the typical boy group.

There were parts of the song where the production was quite interesting. They used sound effects such as sirens, creating the song’s sinister atmosphere. The Bass is well mixed, and it sounds glorious. This increases the song’s overall quality because the bass acts as the song’s backbone. It was adjusted to the perfect volume as well, peeking through the production when it needed to, and blending in otherwise.

The song’s production matched the vibe and message that the band was trying to go for, and it was done quite well.

Despite this, I think that it could have reached greater heights. It isn’t necessarily because Xdinary heroes did a bad job in composing the song, but the presence of elite K-bands such as LUCY who have raised the bar incredibly high makes it difficult for me to feel completely satisfied with this song’s production. The climax needed to feel more climactic. There was indeed a good use of dynamics in the song, but it still felt like it wasn’t brought to its full potential. Most jarring of all, I think the way the song ended left me disappointed because I would have loved an outro to act as a transition to the song’s end, as it felt overly abrupt. This is especially apparent because the song had an intro that nicely set the scene, so when there wasn’t an outro, it left me hanging.

All in all, the song’s production is solid but could be better.

8/10

Vocal and Rap Delivery
I must say, the lines were distributed very well. The members who sang each line felt that it was made for them, effectively matching the vibe and atmosphere of the song in every particular moment. The members sell it very convincingly, and it was part of why I wanted to come back to the song in the first place, and also why I ended up reviewing this instead of P1Harmony’s Doom Du Doom.

I liked the jarring contast that one of the member’s vocal and rap delivery provided, where he sounded completely unrestrained, almost like a criminal, and it completely matched the song’s concept and music video. I highly appreciated this stylistic choice to enhance the song’s quality.

In summary, great job all around. If anything, 1 or 2 members weren’t as convincing as the others, even if they matched the part very well. However, that is a relatively small complaint.

Vocal Delivery – 9/10
Rap – 9/10
Overall – 9/10

Final thoughts
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Xdinary Heroes’ music after their disappointing debut single, but Test Me has successfully overturned my hopes for their music. I will be looking forward to what they can come up next, and how they would sound when they have completely grown into their potential. This song shows that the members themselves have the skills to make truly great music, but whether or not they will blossom into their full potential is a different story.

8.75/10

PS: I felt that while I usually keep my reviews to the nearest .5, it felt weird to put it on the same level as Sneakers, so it gets a bonus .25 points!

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