It's been seven months since Tomorrow X Together made their anticipated debut, and now the K-pop rookies are continuing their whimsical coming-of-age journey with new single "9 and Three Quarters (Run Away)" — an energetic song that channels typical teenage angst into something magical and extremely catchy.
"9 and Three Quarters (Run Away)" is all about breaking free from everyday burdens and running away to a special place where you can forget your troubles and be yourself alongside your best friends. But even more than that, it's a song about the magic that occurs when you're together. If "Crown" tapped into the emotional and physical pangs of adolescence — the uncertainty and the abundance of feelings — then "9 and Three Quarters (Run Away)" refers to finding strength in sacred moments shared among friends.
Of course, there's still a fair amount of angst, in addition to the heavy bass line and explosive hook. "It feels like everybody's happy but me," Beomgyu sings. "It hurts more when I smile than when I cry." But these moments subside, as they so often do when you have friends to weather the storm with — or give you a Band-Aid when you need one. "In moments like those / When tears fill your eyes / Hold my hand tight," Yeonjun sings. "Should we run away?"
And while the lyrics and visuals make obvious references to the magical world of Harry Potter — summoning spells, departing trains (bibbidi bobbidi!), rewinding clocks, wands, and the titular Platform 9 3⁄4 — the Boy Who Lived is never referenced by name. (Though, J.K. Rowling, you are now obligated to stan Tomorrow X Together.) The magic in question, however, isn't so literal. It's a feeling, one that TXT first evoked in "Crown" with the lyric, "Your existence changes my world like magic."
At their media showcase in Seoul on Monday morning (October 21), leader Soobin said the song captures the "magical moments that we have together."
"9 and Three Quarters (Run Away)" is the lead single off the group's first studio album, The Dream Chapter: Magic. The album is an eclectic mix of genres, but it's one that feels distinctly TXT. From the sentimental R&B of "20cm," to the charismatic swagger of "Angel or Devil," and the fizzy pop of "Poppin' Star," Magic diversifies the group's sound without completely losing their signature energy and stylistic flourishes. It also further establishes members Soobin, Yeonjun, Beomgyu, Taehyun, and Huening Kai as versatile performers who can sing, rap, and dance. In fact, it's that playfulness and their willingness to try just about anything that makes the young group stand out among their peers. (The spell-binding narrative helps too.)
Still, as Big Hit Entertainment's second-ever boy group — the first being global superstars BTS — TXT know that all eyes are on them and their second release. "It would be a lie if I say I don't have any pressure," Beomgyu said at their media showcase. "There is pressure, but it also gives us driving force to prepare harder."
"We are aware BTS and Big Hit gave us big wings," Soobin added. "In order to fly high with the wings, we need a strong body. That's why we are preparing hard."
Perhaps that's why when asked if they had their own Platform 9 3⁄4, somewhere special they go to escape the world for a bit, Soobin thought of a recording studio inside the company. "I can be by myself," he said, "watch movies, or write song lyrics and listen to music and sing." But the most "precious place" of all for this formidable fivesome is the practice room. "It's where we spend the most time," he said.
Watching Tomorrow X Together perform "9 and Three Quarters (Run Away)" for the first time — all "precise movements and raw energy," as Yeonjun likes to say — and it's clear that all that time has paid off. And that dynamism and teamwork is exactly what makes them so magical.