Lim Youngmin and Kim Donghyun of MXM became one of 2017’s best-selling rookies, even though their current configuration as a duo is only temporary until they join fellow Produce 101 contestants Lee Daehwi and Park Woojin to form Brand New Music’s as-yet-unnamed boy group. If that sentence sounds overly long and complex, it’s because the post-Produce 101 k-pop landscape can also be kind of confusing. We’ve got project groups, sub-units, and new debuts all spun out of popular trainees from the series. And at least for the moment, very few of these acts have been billed as anything more than fleeting.
I wasn’t a huge fan of MXM’s catchy (if repetitive) single from last year, but Diamond Girl’s (다이아몬드걸) sleek 80’s funk is right within my wheelhouse. The entire instrumental is buttressed by a heavy dose of rhythm guitar and playful bass. The explosion of brass that heralds the pre-chorus is expected for this genre, but the icy synth hook that follows is a wonderful surprise. This one musical touch roots the song firmly in the 80’s, but everything around it feels timeless enough to work in today’s pop climate.
Diamond Girl‘s hooks don’t offer anything new, coming across as a hodgepodge of pieces from similar tracks. But there’s a punchy energy at play that quickly becomes addictive. I like that most of the song seems perched somewhere between melody and rap, with the tunefulness of the former and the (goofy) swagger of the latter. It’s an effective match for MXM, who have thus far displayed a youthful, light-hearted tone that seems as if it will jibe well with their future group-mates.