K-pop group names are just getting weirder and weirder. One look at “Momoland,” coupled with “JJan! Koong! Kwang!” and I think the glazed over looks some friends give me when I say I’m a massive k-pop fan become more understandable. Now, this is in no way a complaint. I’m a big supporter of #keepkpopweird, if that’s even a thing. If not, it sure should be.
Unfortunately, the actual sonics behind the onomatopoeia title of Momoland’s debut track are not quite as adventurous as you’d expect. Instead, the song sounds like several trendy girl group sounds swirled together in a blender. Within the space of a minute, it’s easy to find the quirky attitude of Red Velvet, the clipped, off-kilter chantiness of Twice, a pinch of Lovelyz’s sprightly aegyo and even some of Mamamoo’s throwback r&b instrumentation. This results in a song that feels fun and surprisingly accomplished for a rookie debut, but also one that lacks a true purpose or identity. Though its feisty hooks clobber you over the head, there’s not enough underneath to make them stick. It’s like being shot with a t-shirt cannon filled with glittery melodic shrapnel.
Though JJan! Koong! Kwang! fails to establish much of an identity for the girls, it does keep the energy brisk throughout. The song launches from one piece of sugary melody to another. It’s a bit of a head spin, but the fact that listeners are kept off-balance throughout is probably a good thing. Next time, maybe the girls will pause for a moment and fully flesh out one of those sounds. It would be an excellent next step.