Admittedly, I hadn’t heard of ONEUS until MNET’s idol competition ‘Road to Kingdom’. Although they didn’t win, I thankfully discovered their music through the show. Personally, I felt that their finale original song, ‘Come Back Home’ was (and still is) incredibly impressive. It wasn’t even officially a K-Pop comeback! So, imagine my delight when discovering that the song is included on ONEUS’ 4th Mini Album ‘LIVED’.
Prior to writing this, days ago I deep dived into ONEUS’ entire back catalog and also watched all their official music videos, to the point where I now feel terrible that I never really gave the 6-member K-Pop boy group much attention beforehand. And I suppose this is quite forgivable, given that the group only really debuted in early 2019 (2018 if you include their pre-debut activities and duet with label mates ONEWE). There was not much for me to catch up on, and gratefully now I feel up to date with their flawless releases.
The 5-track EP ‘LIVED’ (6, if you include the introduction) is completely a different mood to the South Korean summery music releases of this year. While everyone else is wearing colourful attire during their promotions and are singing and dancing uplifting tunes, ONEUS have gone the other route to provide us with hard-hitting tracks about love and heartache coupled with a dark vampiric concept. Considering the competition performance of ‘Come Back Home’ and its accompanying special music video were released months ago with the same theme, one can only imagine how planned in advance this album was. Honestly, I’m super impressed and really digging the dark emotive vibe of ‘LIVED’.
‘TO BE OR NOT TO BE’ is the crowning glory of ‘LIVED’. The production and its unique arrangement REALLY surprised me. The lyrics address of severely suffering from heartache to the point of wishing to go back in time to “before I met you and not know you at all”, in order for to get over the pain and needing to kill the memory of ‘you’ to live; “I have to get rid of you in my heart to live again”.
I know it sounds really emo, but the song is honestly extremely clever, and I FELT that. Who hasn’t gone through heartbreak and reluctantly lingered in a mood where you felt that your world was ending, and that you may never survive the pain? I know it sounds dramatic and very romantic, but lyrically the narrative is realistic, relatable, and not to mention catchy as hell.
Continuing with the clever theme and lyrics, ‘Dead or Alive’ expresses more romantic turmoil, self-referencing ‘TO BE OR NOT TO BE’. I found this song to have more of a dance kind sound in some parts, which was great, but then the track unexpectedly throws rock guitar riffs at you. I have no complaints about this. In fact, I believe this makes the song even stronger.
If ‘LIVED’ wasn’t obviously a break-up album enough, ‘Dizzy’ is a catchy deceptively happy track addressing the confusion and complexity of being in love along with its miscommunication or lack thereof, while ‘Airplane’ is the most romantically hopeful tune of the album, with the narrative finally addressing their feelings.
And so, we come full circle with the final track of the mini album ‘Come Back Home’, the song that made me finally pay attention to ONEUS. Lyrically it is pretty self-explanatory; “Come back home. I don’t want to be left alone. Do you think about me?”
‘LIVED’ is such an impressive concept album, masterfully thought out with its themes and storytelling through each track. Personally, while stuck in lockdown and experiencing really dull rainy days, I can relate more to the emotive vibes of ONEUS’ 4th mini album than any other release in K-Pop right now. Visually, the performances of both ‘Come Back Home’ and ‘TO BE OR NOT TO BE’ are phenomenal as well and are a must-watch if you have yet to see these brilliant boys perform. Honestly, go do it now. You can thank me later.
I think from here on end, I’m going to pay attention to ONEUS’ releases, because after deep diving into their catalog, they really surprised me with their consistency, hard work and professionalism. ‘LIVED’ is a genius mini album and ONEUS are definitely ones to watch in K-Pop. We should all stop ‘sleeping on them’ because they damn well deserve our attention.
ONEUS’ ‘LIVED’ is now available on Spotify, iTunes and you sure bet I’m going to get the physical release.
Images by RBW.