2017 surely was a big year for CUBE Entertainment boy group BTOB. In March 2017, the group released their 10th mini-album Feel’Em, which included the successful title track “Movie,” and later put out their second full-length album Brother Act. in October, featuring the hit song “Missing You.” Both releases and their increasing success have proven that BTOB is on their way to becoming a renowned self-producing group, showing a variety in genre and skillful songwriting.
Another proof of that would be BTOB’s solo single project, Piece of BTOB, that spanned over the summer of 2017. Rather unknown to the general public, the project allowed each member to release a solo track (sometimes even two), between the months of April and September. Through Piece of BTOB, each of the members was allowed to show his skill as a performer in a variety of styles, from rock to tropical house, that ranges far beyond BTOB’s usual sound, allowing for great surprises to come out of the project.
Rappers Stepping Out of the Box
It’s a known fact that each of BTOB’s rappers has his own distinct flow—it’s a characteristic of the group that often explains its appeal to rap enthusiasts. This distinction is even more palpable through each of the rappers’ solo tracks.
Peniel’s song “That Girl” surely was one of the best surprises that came out of Piece of BTOB. Released in late June, its bright summer vibe laid over a nice electro-tropical beat fit the season perfectly. With lyrics in English penned by Peniel, “That Girl” allows the rapper to not only show the best of his skill as a rapper, but also explore with a genre that might fit him personally better than some of BTOB’s title tracks have in the past.
Ilhoon’s self-composed release “Fancy Shoes” is slightly reminiscent of BTOB’s “Movie,” which the rapper also wrote for the group. With its funky sound and bright melody, it fits Ilhoon’s style perfectly and lets him show the best of his charismatic rap and playful personality in the chorus. While being the second song released through the project in late May, it’s arguably one of the catchiest and best songs of the collection.
Rather than sticking to the bright vibe of his fellow rappers, Minhyuk instead went for a slow tempo hip-hop infused track for his self-composed release “Purple Rain,” which features singer Cheeze. The sadness of the lyrics can also be felt through the music, and especially through Minhyuk’s delivery, whether he is singing or rapping. “Purple Rain” is an accomplished hip-hop song, one that definitely deserves more attention for the amount of skill it shows on Minhyuk’s part as a writer, composer, and performer.
Vocalists Croon in Ballads
One of BTOB’s strengths as a group resides in their execution of ballads, and it’s all thanks to their four vocalists. Through Piece of BTOB, the members had the chance to show off their skills once more, as Changsub and Hyunsik leaned towards the rock genre, while Sungjae and Eunkwang stayed in the realm of slow pop ballads.
As the first member to participate in the project, Changsub surely surprised a few with the release of a self-composed rock song “At the End.” While fans might’ve acknowledged Changub’s preference for the genre, few would have predicted him to release a rock song himself—even more so one he has written and composed! “At the End” incorporates acoustic and electric guitars, with a building beat that blooms fully at the chorus. Changsub’s delivery, especially, is noteworthy, keeping a certain raspy quality to his voice while executing each of his high notes perfectly.
BTOB’s in-house songwriter and composer Hyunsik released the song “Swimming,” a slow-paced rock ballad with dreamy undertones. “Swimming” lets Hyunsik show off the best of his lower register, which isn’t heard often in BTOB’s songs. This doesn’t keep him from belting a steady high note at the bridge, accompanied by his guitar playing. The music video for “Swimming” portrays the same vague melancholy as the song itself and was co-directed by Hyunsik’s older brother, Im Yoonsik.
Eunkwang and Sungjae are the last two members of the group to have released their singles, and also the two members who also released B-side tracks alongside their main titles. Leader Eunkwang released two ballads, the main title track “One Day” and the B-side “Back in the Day,” both of which could easily double as heartfelt, romantic drama OSTs. With complex orchestral instrumentalization and a slow rhythm, both songs let Eunkwang explore the most of his impressive and often belted vocals through an emotional and sincere delivery, especially the title track “One Day.”
Sungjae also took the OST-like ballad route with his main title track “Tell Me,” which follows a piano and acoustic guitar arrangement. Like Hyunsik, Sungjae gets to demonstrate more of his lower register in the song, allowing for maximum emotional vibes. However, the real highlight resides in the bright, soulful B-side “Paradise.” Romantic and slightly groovy, “Paradise” incorporates falsetto harmonies and brass instrumentals, amongst Sungjae’s best vocals.