Song Review: ZEROBASEONE – In Bloom

It’s a big day for K-pop boy groups, with one veteran act returning after a long hiatus and the year’s most anticipate rookie making their debut. ZEROBASEONE were brought together through MNET’s audition program Boys Planetwhich I chronicled on this blog back when it aired. Though I was pleased with the final line-up for this group, very little of the series’ music has endured on my playlist. Will In Bloom buck the trend?

I’m happy to see ZEROBASEONE debut with a brighter, more youthful concept. The songwriting power behind In Bloom is very strong, with one of GFriend’s frequent collaborators taking the lead. This — plus an interpolation of a-ha’s mighty Take On Me — sets the stage for a very promising debut. True to form, In Bloom is a pleasant listen. But it’s far from a home run.

I’ve been using keywords like “muted” and “subdued” too often to describe 2023 in K-pop, but those descriptors encompass In Bloom‘s biggest shortcomings. Though it’s undoubtedly a dance track, the sonic palette feels oddly drained of excitement. This makes the post-chorus chant and brisk chorus melody feel unsupported. Maybe my expectations are completely of of whack, but I don’t understand the drum and bass production at all. I enjoy drum and bass as a genre, but it feels mismatched with this song. The instrumental shuffles while the melody surges. The result is kind of nebulous.

With this said, I expect In Bloom to grow more addictive with time. The vocals are strong and the chorus is a total earworm. The a-ha interpolation is used well and avoids the most obvious hallmarks of that iconic synth riff. The song may not be the knockout I was hoping for, but ZEROBASEONE have the right ingredients for a killer discography.

The first listen threw me off mostly because of the pre-chorus, but after a few more listens i can say personally that this is a pretty solid debut! New Kidz on the Block is definitely my favorite of the b-sides on this album, but maybe im just saying all this because I haven’t been this excited for a debut in a while 😭

I’m totally biased because I followed Boys Planet, but I think this debut is pretty strong. So is the album, although the last three songs (And I, Our Season, and Always) have similar vibes—I would have welcomed Jelly Pop, Hot Summer, or even Say My Name in there. My favorite song is Back to Zerobase, it feels strangely nostalgic and futuristic at the same time. Overall their sound feels like 3rd gen mixed with more modern trends to me—if that’s what 5th gen means, I’ll take it.

I think the song is interesting and bright. Not the most adventurous, but does well enough with the material at hand. I wish producers these days would lay off the tinny vocal button, I mean why why why, why not just have the boys sing it straight. It dates the song instantly like dusty rose and harvest gold colors.

Something about it reminds me of the ONF debut era, when the sound of each song was almost great but taken together over several releases built to a fine body of debut year work. In other words, I am eager to hear more. Rating is about right or close enough.

I like the lineup but I feel like a song like this needs a higher pitched vocalist to balance out their deep palate (like a Wonjin or Seongmin from Cravity situation). I do like the song though, any drum and bass beat is gonna have it on repeat for a while.

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