Photo Courtesy of Press Hit Play
There are a lot of dark concepts in the realm of P-Pop boy groups. And this is not to say I'm tired of it. In fact, a lot of them are great, with each group giving their own spin on what the concept means to them. Many groups make it a proclamation of empowerment. Others create a whole storyline. Meanwhile, some add a spooky and supernatural element.
The bottom line is there are a lot of dark concepts right now. So, how does one stand out? Up-and-coming group Press Hit Play does it by giving us the complete opposite: An absolute retro-inspired 80s synth bop that you can't help but smile at. It's as if Bagets (yes, that old movie!) met Reply 1988 then morphed with BTS' Dynamite. Tell Me gives us all the vibes in between these dark times and, oh, how dark the times have been in recent years.
Coming back from the melodic ballad Adlaw, Yukito, Sev, JP, Zi.O, Yuuki, and Chrls deliver their trademark youthful energy through Tell Me. The new single is an infectious, groovy song that takes us back to when we were head over heels for that one special person in our lives. It's reminiscent of simpler times filled with crushes, first loves, or any honeymoon stage in a relationship. Those simpler times we wish we could go back to.
Tell Me opens in typical sitcom fashion. A cast of characters hanging out by their usual spot 'til someone enters the scene to kickstart the story. Cue: The pre-recorded audience applause that we hear in every old comedy show. The boys settle in to watch a show on their TV — it's them, or at least another version of themselves, performing Tell Me on a music show. There's a disco ball, illuminated dance floor, boomboxes, and every other retro relic to recreate the disco fever. Meanwhile, each member shows off a different old-school look from the time.
Photo Courtesy of Press Hit Play
Chrls and Yukito go back-to-back in starting the song. There's Chrls, known as "The Athlete," who has the perfect tone to ride the rhythm effortlessly, then Yukito, known as "The Student Council President," who adds a sweet, boyish energy to the track.
The following parts are split between JP, Sev, and Yuuki, who progress the song further into its unifying chorus. JP, known as "The Campus Pop Star," and Sev, known as "The Nerd," follow a sort of call-and-response promise to their beloved. As JP sings to them as their one and only, Sev makes the promise even when they're apart. Then comes Yuuki, known as "The Rockstar," who swoops in like every cool guy we've seen in an 80s rom-com.
The song picks at a fast tempo to keep the momentum going. And for most of the track, each member equally splits verses instead of leaving out specific parts for a member. It's perfect for that bubbly, high-energy feel. It makes the song feel a lot more like an amalgamation of all their personalities. And if I relate to old-school TV, it's like ensemble casts where no one is the main character. They're all the main protagonists of their world. To which I'd say fits the concept as every character has a designated role and is the leading man to their love.
We head to the addictive chorus, where PHP performs the main dance. I can compare this to Finesse, who employed retro dance moves in their choreography. Where we're used to intricate, powerful choreography now, PHP hits us with nostalgia through simple yet fun-loving choreo from its time. The type of choreo that anyone of all ages can dance at home.
Zi.O, known as "The Bad Boy," drops some serious bars for the rap break. The only part of the song with a dedicated person for its verses. As if it wasn't at a fast tempo already, Zi.O takes it up a notch with his charismatic yet vibrant rapping.
From pop culture to campus-style of the era, Tell Me doesn't skim on its references. As a matter of fact, I'd even say they're dedicated to paying homage to how they did their backdrops, outfits, and various pop culture nods, from classic movies, TV shows to music acts.
A few more choruses and a brief bridge later, it all comes together in its finale at prom — the ultimate fairytale event that all those old movies swore would be the most important memory of our lives. The members deck themselves out in colorful silk-like suits with matching converse shoes, a popular choice from then. The song fades as we jump from the campus crush athleisure, 80s trope looks, and prom fits. All styles being a fusion of the bright and bold; a reminder of a long-lost time when men normally dressed in excess.
There's much more to be said about Press Hit Play's Tell Me that's hard, to sum up in one article. But, I will say this: PHP isn't here to be some run-of-the-mill P-Pop group. They're here to break away from the mold and form their own path. Or, in their words, "Set the tune... Feel the vibe... Press Hit Play!"