A day before TOMORROW X TOGETHER unleashed their new The Name Chapter: Temptation EP and officially kickstarted a new musical era, the K-pop boy band met with reporters both in-person in Korea and virtually around the world via a global media showcase on Jan. 26. In the hourlong press conference that included the first look at TXT’s new single, music video and stage performance, youngest member HUENINGKAI shared the group’s bold plan to “work hard to make 2023 the year of TXT.” With their most robust music output in months—not to mention the group’s highest amount of album pre-orders ever hinting at a high Billboard 200 debut—The Name Chapter: Temptation has already set TXT in motion to make that dream a reality.
With six entries on the Billboard 200 (the most of any K-pop group other than their BIGHIT MUSIC labelmates BTS), TOMORROW X TOGETHER have shown how their stylized storytelling targeted for their Generation Z is consistently connecting. But the quintet share that Temptation EP was particularly intentional for including the group’s own stories. The group said HYBE founder Bang Shi-Hyuk (who contributed to two of the EP’s five tracks, including the new single “Sugar Rush Ride”) encouraged them to take a heavier hand on certain songs this time to bring their own stories and lyrics. Not only do SOOBIN, YEONJUN, BEOMGYU, TAEHYUN and HUENINGKAI all boast writing credits, YEONJUN crafted melodies for one of the standout b-side tracks “Happy Fools,” marking his first melody contribution for a TXT album. “It made me so proud,” the 23-year-old remarked, “It was rewarding. It inspired me to write even more.”
With a slew of new genres explored, a significant crossover collaboration alongside Coi Leray and some of their career-best lyrics, The Name Chapter: Temptation is starting an excellent year and new music chapter for TOMORROW X TOGETHER. Read on for Billboard‘s ranking of the new tracks.
Ahead of the release of The Name Chapter: Temptation, TOMORROW X TOGETHER explained how listening to the EP’s five new tracks came together to spin a story and “Farewell, Neverland” wraps up the tale on an ominous, mysterious note. With lyric contributions including TXT’s own YEONJUN, plus HYBE founder Bang Shi-Hyuk and Korean singer-songwriter Stella Jang, “Farewell, Neverland” opens as an acoustic-pop number that grows in its intensity as the quintet faces the reality of growing up and realize they can’t stay in a fantasy “Neverland.”
While unclear where the boys are going next, this song indicates that the next section of The Name Chapter will continue exploring TOMORROW X TOGETHER’s truths and keep fans anticipating what’s next from the band.
“Devil by the Window”
When TOMORROW X TOGETHER previewed Temptation at their global media showcase ahead of the EP drop, the guys shared that “Devil by the Window” acted as a “prequel” to their new single “Sugar Rush Ride.” With its shift in sounds and sentiments, “Devil” does set the groundwork for “Sugar Rush Ride” (keep reading to see where it placed in our ranking) but also establishes the tone for a reflective and brooding era for the group. The track also has the same creeping-yet-thrilling charm that made Billie Eilish‘s “Bad Guy” such a refreshing performance for pop radio and marks something that most K-pop groups of TXT’s generation could not pull off so effortlessly.
“Happy Fools” Featuring Coi Leray
A delightful surprise inside The Name Chapter: Temptation‘s tracklist reveal was a feature from “Players” rapper Coi Leray, one of TXT’s labelmates under Republic Records. While the band has collaborated with various hip-hop, pop and rock artists, “Happy Fools” is their strongest and most natural crossover collab to date. With the melody line crafted by YEONJUN, the bouncy, hip-hop/pop cut perfectly fits both artists’ sound as they describe living in their superstar dream world of fun, parties and luxury. While we know future songs in the EP aren’t as carefree, “Happy Fools” is a moment purely in “Neverland.”
Also, big bonus points to Coi and the boys for hyping up the eventual collab through these fun posts on Twitter:
It’s only a TOMORROW X TOGETHER album if at least one song has a long and slightly perplexing title. Temptation‘s “Tinnitus (Wanna Be a Rock)” stands out not just for the name but for the group’s first foray into Afrobeat and Afropop influences. With production by Smash David (who’s worked with Bad Bunny, Shenseea, and Chris Brown, among others) and Dystinkt Beats (Lil Tecca, Lil Tjay), “Tinnitus” is TXT slowly coming down from the high of “Happy Fools” and finding discontent with the world today. With thoughtful, multifaceted lyrics, TXT describe a night overblown by filters and an empty noise filing their head as they decide, “I know that I can’t be a rock star…/ Just a rock, OK?”
“Tinnitus (Wanna Be a Rock)” is one of the best examples of TOMORROW X TOGETHER’s message of telling the stories of Generation Z with references that their listeners will specifically connect with while embracing a global-pop sound.
“Sugar Rush Ride”
Almost four years since its debut and TOMORROW X TOGETHER is famous for delivering some of K-pop’s best b-sides. Yet as strong as their albums tend to be, the true standout on The Name Chapter: Temptation has to be “Sugar Rush Ride.” While the opening’s glittery guitar opening recalls 2020’s “Blue Hour” (one of the group’s best singles), listeners take a true musical “Ride” here. The track flips the racing funk-pop into a slithering, minimalist chorus where the guys hiss how “The devil said: ‘Gimme gimme more, gimme gimme more,’” before a hyped-up, catchy breakdown that grows in intensity after each chorus.
True to TXT form, the single wouldn’t come alive without its accompanying music video and the quintet supplied some of their most impressive choreography for “Sugar Rush Ride.” Beyond the physically demanding high kicks and lifts, the best part of the choreo may be how the guys transform into seductive little devils themselves with bewitching, controlled movements to illustrate the music switch-up physically.
Even more impressively, “Sugar Rush Ride” doesn’t have a traditional bridge but doesn’t feel like it’s missing anything to become an early standout K-pop song for 2023 and a sweet gem in TXT’s impressive singles discography.