The ’90s nostalgia wave finally hit Korea last year and it’s been steadily growing to the point that it could turn into the defining K-pop trend of 2015, much like disco and sexy concepts have dominated previous years.
We’ve already seen a bunch of ’90s-themed K-pop releases (from ToppDogg’s “Annie” to A Pink’s “LUV” and GOT7’s everything), but nobody has channelled the era with the vigorous dedication of Brave Brothers’ new male duo 1PUNCH.
Made up of 20-year-old One and 13-year-old Punch (I’m not kidding), 1PUNCH is literally a Korean version of ’90s kiddie rap duo Kris Kross (Jump! Jump!)–their entire image and sound is built around ’90s hip-hop culture.
The closest thing we have to 1PUNCH right now would be Japan’s incredible Especia; although, Especia are more creative in that they’ve based themselves on the niche genres of muzak and vaporwave, which has separated the group from all the other retro revivalists around right now.
1PUNCH have gone for the more obvious aspects of the decade and taken it on to the point that it becomes an absurd parody. Their first single-album, The Anthem, opens with a sax-y rap track that name-drops Tommy Hilfiger, Biggie, Nas’ Illmatic, Rakim, and Kris Kross (duh), while the music video for lead single “Turn Me Back” is filled with every piece of ’90s hip-hop memorabilia you can think of.
It’s so OTT that the whole thing makes T-ara’s “Yayaya” look like the fucking KBS Symphony Orchestra by comparison.
To drive my point home even further: Iggy Azalea and Vanilla Ice are basically black and living in huts on the motherland compared to the level of fuckery going on in 1PUNCH.
It’s to the point where a strong case for cultural appropriation could be made (and I hate to even bring up that overused PC term), but it’s too ridiculous to take it seriously enough to make those kinds of accusations.
HOWEVER, with that said, “Turn Me Back” is an undeniably INCREDIBLE song.
It’s so good that I’d recommend people listen to the MP3 before watching the MV, just to appreciate what a fantastic piece of pop music this is without having their judgement clouded by such a silly concept.
“Turn Me Back” is like the best bits of every single ’90s song you ever heard all rolled into one. It’s Seo Taiji and Boys’ “I Know” meets Wreckx-N-Effect and Bobby Brown. It’s Italo House in flannel shirts and Timberlands. It’s ToppDogg’s “Annie” on Kool-Aid and Jolt Cola!
As far as commercial music goes, I don’t know who the hell is going to be able to make a better ’90s nostalgia song than this in 2015.
Also, as for the concept, I do love it in an ironic so-bad-it’s-good way, I just hate that a song this good could be turned into a joke from the visuals alone.
Anyway, it’s nice to see King Brave Brothers already smashing 2015 with some hot new sounds (first “Wiggle Wiggle,” now this!). Everything BB touches turns to SLAY, so I hope that 1PUNCH is just part of a larger boy band who are gonna save music and crush YG’s already overrated iKON this year.
Part of me feels guilty for loving this, but god damn, what a song.