Sunday, December 30, 2012

[#1] Infinite - "The Chaser"

Format: EP
Released: May
Territory: South Korea
Previous Best of Appearances : #37 -"She's Back" (2010) / #4 -"Nothing's Over" (2011)

Infinite's success story is one I'm more than thrilled to have witnessed from the very beginning, and actually one of my most successful "calls" (or predictions). I've said it before and I'll say it again -- I was on the Infinite bandwagon ever since I heard "Come Back To Me" for the very first time two years ago, back when everyone was unsure of them. But I realize that calling them the second Beast simply doesn't so justice to everything they've achieved.

They've come a long way in terms of both success and musical identity, but they had one, very important trait since the very beginning -- good material. Good material opens so many doors for an act that I'm probably going to spend the next two or three paragraphs talking about everything it affected, and all the doors it opened. Woolim has always done phenomenal A&R for Infinite, and has always made the right decisions for singles and re-releases -- they kept it coming, yes, but they also kept raising the bar in the process. Infinite started out with material a cut above the rest of their fellow rookies and now that as permanent fixtures in K-Pop, they carry on with material that's a cut above everyone else.

So if all an act needs to succeed is consistently good material, what makes Infinite better? It's one thing to get good songs, but it's a completely different story when those songs actually fit the act in question, and even bring out strengths. When those songs put together tell a story, and actually make sense in the process. Now whether this is Sweetune or Woolim's making, the bottom line is that someone got things right, and now Infinite are basking in well-deserved glory because of it. These amazing songs have become synonymous not only with being, well, amazing songs, but also with the fact that it's very hard to imagine them done any other way. People can try, but the original version is always one step above.

That, my friends, is identity.

And it's also for that reason that "The Chaser" is this year's #1 song -- it is everything this list aims to put forward, and everything that I, as a critic, want from a song. Infinite's musical success is made up of two elements of equal weight -- outstanding material, and confident delivery. Those two are also the main elements I look for in a song.

"The Chaser" as a song is really, really good. It's in your standard song structure of verse-chorus, etc. and it has your standard hook, but the way these ver put forward with such brevity, such mastery, is really something else. Every single element on this song, from the millions of synths running around, to the bass line that you kind of lose track of hearing, but not of feeling, was delivered spot-on. It's the epitome of a pop song -- clean, controlled and organized, not a hair out of place.

What made me like it even more is the fact that they took that control, that clean, and they played around with it. Because really, what's music without some fun? The people listening are supposed to enjoy it, but they can't do that unless the people making it enjoy it first. I hear that in "The Chaser", and I hear it in every, single detail. Effortless, but fun, but still pop.

That's ultimately what "The Chaser" is -- a very, very, very good pop song. The best I've heard this year, in fact. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

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