In January, FTISLAND told Billboard that the K-pop/rock band would preview their forthcoming music during their hard-rocking debut New York concert. Fans finally got to see just what the group meant with new single “Pray.”
The band’s latest opens with thundering drums, unforgiving guitars and a powerful wail from vocalist Hong Gi. “Pray” tiptoes in between metal and emo world, but Hong Gi’s dulcet vocals and belts evoke a mellower feel, keeping this in a general rock-pop category even if it is just a screamo shriek away from falling into a heavier genre.
Lyrically, the track details a prayer between the band feeling beat down by the world and begging for God’s help. They sing, “See me now? I’m broken in my faith / Oh, please god hear me. I can’t do anything… Oh, please god hear me, but the day I shout out / So I won’t lose my way, I’ll pray / I’ll pray I’ll pray / I’ll pray for you.”
During their NYC show, Hong Gi spoke for his bandmates (via translator) telling the audience, “It’s been about a year, year-and-a-half that I can do the music I actually want to… I’m really happy now.” The noticeably heavier music and subject material is a risk for a mainstream act like FTISLAND, but there’s a catchiness and excitement in “Pray” that connects well with the quintet’s past discography.
The accompanying video is heavy on symbolism as the members are seen trapped in small boxes; undoubtedly a metaphor for someone or something (Their record label? Economic pressures? Fan expectations? Themselves?) holding them back from feeling free. The band is also shown rocking out in a box together as clowns in business suits watch and laugh at their performance — giving more indication it may have been a business or money motives that kept them from creative freedom. The video concludes with their box exploding after a riveting growl-belt from Hong Gi. If the video’s metaphors are to be taken seriously, FTISLAND has demolished whatever was holding them back with nothing, but their undisputed talent.
According to record label FNC Entertainment, “Pray” is “the track that all members are proud enough to say that it is the closest to the music style that FTISLAND pursued out of their releases so far,” which is in line with the band’s statements from January. It’s the lead single off their new full-length LP, I Will, which boasts 11 tracks composed and written entirely by the FTISLAND members.
Check out a medley of the new album cuts below and look out for a U.S. release soon.