The end of February was a long and frustrating week for kpop. From suspicious mass bullying accusations to fan wars to hundreds of kpop songs being deleted off of Spotify, everything seemed to be metaphorically on fire.
Meanwhile, the Korean boy group ATEEZ literally set things on fire with their comeback ZERO: FEVER Part.2. Their sixth EP comes after almost a full month of built-up hype.
Since the beginning of February, ATEEZ released a slew of teasers and concept photos according to a promotion map schedule. The development of their concept photos is actually quite interesting, starting off with misleadingly serene, paradise-like imagery and gradually devolving into a burnt, desolate hellscape. Bright pinks, yellows, and blues were replaced by red and black, and the beautiful garden scenery becomes a fiery wasteland.
On the album are seven songs, including the title track “Fireworks (I’m the One).” There’s also a Heat Topping version of the track, which is even more hype than the original, accentuating the hip-hop vibe.
As a whole, the album explores different styles from the husky whispering in “The Leaders” to the sax solo in the outro of “Take Me Home” to the full-blown church choir in the background of “Celebrate.” They also play around with language, making an English version of “Take Me Home.”
While fans were excited to watch the music video for the title track “Fireworks (I’m the One)” and see the continuation of the ATEEZ storyline, there was… a slight issue. The fandom– called Atiny, a combination of ATEEZ’s name and the word “destiny”– loved the video, of course. The video that was led up to for a month delivered on all aspects: a great song, fantastic styling, deeper worldbuilding, and great visuals.
However, the problem arose when fans noticed something wrong with the view count which appeared to be missing and frozen for long periods of time, and later on, actually noticeably decreased. Since people were already paying attention to the massive discrepancy on day one, obsessively checking the count and trying to get in touch with the YouTube team, it escaped no one when the views went from 8.9 million down to 8.7 million. I don’t even know how that’s possible, but it happened.
All of this was panic-inducing, to say the least, especially for fans of an industry where these numbers aren’t just personal goals for growth, but key players in upcoming award opportunities. For hours on end as the situation continued to stagnate, Atiny twitter broke out with insistent copypasta messages directed towards both the YouTube and TeamYouTube accounts.
The views on the video "ATEEZ(에이티즈) – ‘Fireworks (I'm The One)’ Official MV " have been frozen for long periods at a time and only increases by a little once unfrozen. Please fix and verify the counted views and I hope you can quickly fix this. @YouTube @TeamYouTube— ATEEZ Updates (@ateez_updates) March 1, 2021
In the face of this disheartening situation, fans persevered, strengthening their efforts to stream the video and focusing on other platforms. While this mishap with YouTube put a wrench in some of the fans’ ZERO: FEVER PART.2 comeback goals, ATEEZ wrecked shop elsewhere, breaking personal and industry records. All of which is even more impressive considering they aren’t from a big company, making them major underdogs in the industry.
Along with their new album’s release, the group is also busy on a plethora of projects. At the beginning of February, when they started the build-up to the new album, they were also busy winning the music competition show Immortal Songs with their cover of “It’s Raining” by the artist Rain. During February, they also put out episodes of their variety show Salary Lupin ATEEZ, more episodes of which are scheduled to come out during March.
In the next couple of months, fans can look forward to several more projects of theirs, most notably their Japanese album coming out at the end of March and their participation in the TV reality program Kingdom: Legendary War in April. Additionally, four of the members will be in the upcoming drama Imitation in May, so Atiny have plenty to look forward to while enjoying ZERO: FEVER PART.2.