TXT's killer thinly veiled Harry Potter fanfiction

An abridged issue with new releases from TXT, Day6, and Winner

Hello! Welcome to maybe if you stanned, a weekly dive into K-pop releases and fan culture. This week’s newsletter is a bit shorter — no essay this week and an abridged preview — due basically to the fact that it’s been a busy week! However, I’m still running through some new releases this week from TXT, Winner, and Day6 with a look ahead to what’s coming up. 

Here’s this week’s playlist

Huening Kai in TXT’s “Run Away”

What’s coming up?

Rapid fire this time!

New This Week

TXT — “Run Away,” The Dream Chapter: Magic

Perhaps one of the most heavily scrutinized rookie boy groups of the past year, Tomorrow by Together had a lot of pressure riding on this first comeback. All things considered, they knocked it out of the park with “Run Away,” a concept heavy track that leans into the magic. It’s worth noting that “Run Away” is actually the subtitle — the track is actually called “9 and Three Quarters (Run Away),” so the reference is, uh… pretty obvious.

The title track — and really, album as a whole — are a refreshing extrapolation on the sound that TXT established with their debut EP. A bit more mature than “Crown” both in musical style and choreography, “Run Away” has a rock-driven chorus and verses interspersed with twinkling glockenspiel sounds that are obviously intended to harken back to the infamous Harry Potter scores. This is most evident in the bridge, where an overarching glockenspiel melody obviously draws influence from John William’s infamous theme from the films (arguably, no other musical score is more ingrained into the zeitgeist). It’s that same kind of youthful, quest-driven energy expressed in the popular franchise that TXT seems to be getting at with “Run Away,” and while I would have liked it if the track went a little less heavy on the Harry Potter elements, it works.

The rest of the album is stellar. “New Rules” showcases the group’s versatility, with Yeonjun and Huening Kai taking the lead on rap verses with the rest of the vocal line showing off their upper registers. There’s also the playful “Angel or Devil,” the anthemic “Can’t We Just Leave The Monster Alive?,” and my favorite off of the album, the vaguely jazzy “Roller Coaster.”

Despite standing in the shadow of the world’s biggest boy band (TXT and BTS are both housed under BigHit Entertainment), TXT is cognizant of both the privilege and pressure that fact brings. Ultimately, however, they’re making a name for themselves here with a youthful, synth-driven sound that still retains the playfulness inherent in their debut EP.

Winner — “Soso,” Cross

A few weeks ago when this EP fell onto my radar, I admitted that I hadn’t really kept up with Winner since 2017, when everyone had “Really Really” (and for me, also summery single “Love Me Love Me”) on repeat. When “Soso” blew me away, I assumed that it was mostly just because I hadn’t been around for the past two years of Winner’s releases. After going back and doing some much-needed catch up though, “Soso” seems to stand out amongst the groups recent title tracks.

While still retaining the Winner’s habitual synth pop flavor, “Soso” leans a bit more to the EDM side with a snare-driven pre-chorus that falls off into a slowed down chorus rather than a drop. It matches the emotional tone of the song: “Soso,” which is all about working through a break-up, is more melancholy than anthemic. “I’m not super emotional or emotionless, I’m just so so,” the group sings. The MV visually represents the feeling — each of the members appear at points trapped or aimless, physically restrained or forcing themselves through crowds. 

I haven’t had the chance to sit down and listen through Cross yet, but the album features five additional tracks including solo songs from both Hoony and Yoon. Overall though, “Soso” is far from middling, a surprising (but not unpleasant) departure from Winner’s more poppy singles. 

Day6 — “Sweet Chaos,” The Book Of Us: Entropy

Another group that I’ve been meaning to keep up with but haven’t quite gotten around to doing so, Day6 is the odd K-pop band whose act is based on instrumental performance rather than dance. Comprised of five members, their sound is primarily rock-driven but fluctuates. This latest single, “Sweet Chaos,” is full pop punk, complete with soaring vocals and a relentless chorus that laments the chaos brought about by a lover’s arrival. It’s a total banger, and one that makes good use of the group’s vocal range. The full album reportedly attempts to depict two sides of romance, with the first six tracks leaning into the sweeter moments and the latter into the rough patches. 

Thanks, and until next time,

Palmer