Due to the lack of new K-pop releases from my favorite groups, I instead decided to highlight one of my favorite K-pop songs of all time, Answer by ATEEZ.
The decision to talk about Answer as a song in particular came purely by coincidence. I decided to go an ATEEZ binge yesterday, and when Answer came up, I couldn’t stop crying for some reason I couldn’t explain. So I thought, might as well try to explain why I love the song so much in my next blog post. Hence, I here I am!
ATEEZ sets itself apart from many 4th gen boy groups in the sense that a lot of their title tracks, especially from their Treasure series, have an anthemic and grand atmosphere that does not hold back in lifting me into this sort of euphoric rush of energy, drawing out emotions I didn’t already realize I was feeling. I’m not sure how to word it exactly, but in a nutshell, ATEEZ title tracks have a way of sweeping me off my feet and ascending with them. One of the most important contributing factors to this is the fact that ATEEZ has Jongho, one of the few 4th gen male vocalists who are quite technically proficient, especially in belting. There are few idols these days who can belt to the extent Jongho can, and the presence of his voice can elevate ATEEZ title tracks to heights that many other K-pop songs are not simply able to reach.
Answer, in my opinion, is ATEEZ’s Magnus opus. It is a case when the song and the artist were made for each other. The vocal and rap delivery is stellar and is among the song’s best assets. The contrast in vocal delivery between Jongo’s immensely powerful belts and adlibs, to San’s opening line, to Seonghwa’s vulnerable and emotionally-charged pre-chorus, all of which simply make the final product so much better. Answer needs this kind of high-quality delivery from its singers/rappers to draw out its best strength, and ATEEZ has delivered in the best way possible. Jongho is especially responsible for carrying the song’s energy with the sheer power of his voice alone.
However, one cannot ignore the song’s melody. Answer has among my favorite K-pop choruses of all time. There are very few K-pop songs that have hooked me from the very first line, but Answer is one of them. The chorus melody is emotionally driven, carrying a sense of nostalgia, self-assuredness, and hope for the future that is simply not present in like 99% percent of other K-pop songs. It managed to make me cry, which again, does not happen with most K-pop songs. Its melody is so well written that just from the first time I listened to it, it already felt iconic. Words cannot describe how I feel whenever the chorus comes in. It is simply otherworldly and has a hold on me that I can’t honestly say the same for most other K-pop choruses out there.
The pre-chorus also deserves a shout-out by itself, because the choice to write its melody in a pitch in which the singer, (in this case Seonghwa) would have to sing in falsetto, gives the pre-chorus its needed vulnerability to act as a foil to the almost self-assured and hopeful chorus, making the song so much more impactful. The melody itself tugs my heartstrings whenever it comes up.
The rap parts effectively set the tone of the song, despite not being the most memorable by themselves. It essentially acts as a supporting pillar to the song’s best assets, and I can’t be mad at that. It did its job right, and that is what matters.
The more subdued approach of the second verse, despite losing some of the song’s momentum, works because it wastes no time building it up to its former heights. It acts almost a breather for the self-assured feeling that the song has, perhaps hinting at the slight doubt that ATEEZ still feels a slight doubt regarding their ‘Answer’, but their tinge of doubt cannot stop them from pushing forward with all their might. I may be imagining things, but it just feels like that. Music sometimes does not need lyrics to speak you, and this is my personal interpretation of why the second verse is the way it is.
Last but certainly not least, I cannot move on to talk about the song’s production without mentioning the bridge and climax. This is among the best bridges and final choruses in K-pop. Period. It leaves me on an absolute high that remains long after the song finishes. The melody hits all the right places. I can’t talk coherently about this section, because it always has me completely immersed. Whenever I listen to Answer, when the bridge comes up, I stop what I do completely and simply listen. It is that good.
Answer would not have worked as a song if not for its excellent production. Everything was done perfectly. I am particularly biased towards songs with dynamically interesting and textured production, and ATEEZ does dynamics quite unlike any other group in K-pop, making their climaxes especially effective. All of the chords that were chosen in the melody and background melody worked together to deliver all the right feelings to the listener. The vocal mixing is crisp and not drowned out by the background production. The instrumentation made its presence known without ruining the other elements of the song. The highs and lows of the song felt satisfying because the production’s energy matched the vocal delivery of the members. The best way to describe Answer’s production is that for every section of the song, it did what needed to be done, but also made sure to highlight the contrasts between each section to emphasize the song’s impact. A song like Answer aimed to be a grand finale, and it sure felt like one!
All in all, I strongly believe that Answer is one of the best K-pop songs of all time. There has not been another song in K-pop that leaves me feeling the same way that Answer makes me feel. At the end of the day, music is made to move the listener, and ATEEZ certain moved me on that day listened to Answer for the first time. As cliché as it sounds, Answer changed my perspective of what K-pop could be at its best.
Hooks – 11/10
Production – 11/10
Vocal Delivery – 11/10
Rap Delivery – 11/10
Overall – 11/10
Note: 11 is a score I only give for songs which are best of the best in K-pop.