If any group was poised to give us a bizarre Orange Caramel-esque sub-unit, Oh My Girl has the resume. They come from an agency known for its quirky concepts, and the girls have already delivered a few themselves. But after the surprising success of January’s majestic Secret Garden, it’s a bit unexpected to make such a quick follow-up with something as left field as Banana Allergy Monkey (바나나 알러지 원숭이). Already staking its claim for the honor of 2018’s most nonsensical title, the song strives for fun-spirited novelty but ends up too cloying for its own good.
Though the full group makes an appearance in the music video, this is officially a “pop-up” sub-unit (given the name Banhana, for some reason) that consists of members Hyojung, Binnie and Arin. Unfortunately, this is a misguided configuration of voices — at least how they’re arranged here. The entire song is performed at an ear-killing high pitch that never modulates. I understand that this is a specific aesthetic — and one that is especially popular in Japan — but it simply doesn’t work in this song. There’s never enough character in these voices to transform Banana into anything that rises above colorful kiddie entertainment.
This is a shame, as the instrumental has potential. I love the 8-bit, retro appeal of its bright synths and straightforward dance-pop beat. Had it supported a stronger song that incorporated the full group, we might have something very special. Instead, we get a track that feels as if it should be subversive but never pushes past its narrow definition of “cute.” The girls have proven themselves much more interesting than this.