TAN have done a nice job mining the sounds of second-gen K-pop to craft an appealing discography, most notably with debut single You You You. That song (and others) gave me strong Beast flavor, but new single Heartbeat echoes classic SHINee. Or to be more specific, it feels like NCT’s 2019 version of 2013-era SHINee, borrowing many structural elements from that year’s Superhuman.
Pop music is a game of pillaging from the past, and TAN’s influences happen to be touchstones that greatly appeal to me. The moment I heard Heartbeat‘s glitchy electro beat, I knew I was in for a treat. And the fact the group has legendary producer Shinsadong Tiger behind them means they’ve gone straight to the source of second-gen goodness.
Heartbeat isn’t perfect. I’m curious to hear how it might sound if they flipped the two segments of the chorus in opposite directions (that extended beat drop is a bit… too extended). But when the song hits, it punches with addictive force. The vocal performance is strong and confident all the way through, culminating in a thrilling finale where the guys really belt it out. And although the second verse can’t resist the urge to switch up tempo, it does so in a way that’s in keeping with the production’s complex electronic assault.
Had Heartbeat actually been released during the golden age of second or third gen K-pop, I probably wouldn’t have given it much attention. But in our current K-pop climate, I’m more than willing to boost its rating a few notches.