I first heard (most) runs during a live performance in late March and knew immediately that this was going to be a big pop moment. It is rare that a song ticks so many of my music boxes at the same time. However, due to pandemic postponements, the wait for the full studio shot was incredibly long.
If you've followed my countdown of "Top 100 K-Pop Songs of All Time", you will know that there are certain musical approaches that I long for: a constant sense of rising dynamism, rocking instrumentals and solemn brass, big power notes and explosive refrains. Even one of these aspects can lead to a track really clicking for me. It's almost impossible to find them all in a single song. But to my surprise and delight, Run is that song.
Sexy Zone released one killer single after another over the past year. Run is a theme for Kento's new buddy-cop drama Midnight Runner and takes advantage of the excitement of the genre. Right from the start, the track beats us with its huge brass riff heading for galloping percussion and a jam-packed instrumental. The first few verses of snowballs from there moving along the guitar-driven rhythm, with waves of backing vocals adding extra pep. The song gets more intense when we enter the first part of its pre-choir, just to take a short break that prepares the choir for punchy, maximalistic fun.
The second verse of Run continues to play with that energy, drifting in and out in ultra-rhythmic segments as the group singing is turned on. Fuma's gritty, deeper voice has always been an integral part of Sexy Zone's best work. It is used here with full ferocity and offers moments of pure amusement. Kento is undoubtedly strong too and performs with a force that really suits the song. Then there is this refrain. It hits like a ton of bricks every time it gets around. The melody is structured as an exclamation mark after exclamation mark, with climatic strings whirling in the background to create a thrilling, almost disorienting feeling of movement.
Ever since The Bias List was founded, I've set a precedent for not giving a song a perfect score straight away. After all, music takes time to fully reveal itself. And in the strictest sense of this rule, the precedent is probably still there, since I've lived with most of the runs for months. But that shouldn't spoil his performance. This is an absolutely excellent single.
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