2022 delivered a host of newly-debuted girl groups, and this year seems poised to do the same for boy groups. One of 2023’s most anticipated debuts is BOYNEXTDOOR — the first idol act under Zico’s KOZ Entertainment, with the backing of K-pop overlords HYBE. Their upcoming single album promises three promoted tracks, and today we get an advance taste with pre-release But I Like You (돌아버리겠다).

But I Like You lacks the gravitas of a title track, but its buoyant, youthful energy quickly establishes BOYNEXTDOOR as… well… boys next door. Its vaguely punk rock sound is a tried and true K-pop formula, performed by vocals that adopt a polished sneer. It’s good clean fun — short and sweet and to the point. There’s a limit to how high I can rate a song this slight, but it does its job very well.

In a different world, But I Like You could have been performed by some scruffy UK indie band in the mid-00’s, and that duality is kind of interesting. BOYNEXTDOOR pull out some dance moves in the music video, but I can just as easily imagine them busking on the side of a road with minimal instrumentation and plenty of charm. If anything, the song is too short. It’s a real teaser, and I hope this means more robust, exciting things are coming down the pike. For now, I’ll definitely file BOYNEXTDOOR under “ones to watch.”


Grade: B

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