In the short time since it’s been on the air, Produce 101 has spawned its own mini-genre of hyperactive, multitracked pop anthem. Whether it’s Midas-T, Ryan S. Jhun, or now Flow Blow in charge of production, the end product sounds roughly the same. Last year’s Season 2 theme set the bar incredibly high, so it’s no surprise that Nekkoya (내꺼야) feels slightly underwhelming in comparison. But here’s the thing about tried and true formulas. You already know what you’re gonna get. If you liked it the first two times, you’ll probably like it this time, too.
As much as the critical part of my brain wants to jump ship, I do love these Produce songs in all their cheesy, overblown glory. The soon-to-debut Produce 48 series is a collaboration between Korea’s Mnet and Japan’s ridiculously successful AKB48 girl group system, so you might expect the track to feel more j-pop inspired. But apart from the chirpy, sung-in-unison voices, Nekkoya is by-the-numbers pop EDM. There’s little of Flow Blow’s unique production flair to be found. Even the robotic build to the song’s climax is cut and paste from the previous Produce themes.
In context, this makes perfect sense. A theme should feel familiar. And in Produce‘s case, it should feel larger-than-life. Nekkoya ticks both of these boxes with ease, coming across as a marriage between its two predecessors. Its unending chorus borrows the anthemic heft from Season 2 and the maddeningly catchy repetition from Season 1. What it’s really missing is a viewpoint of its own — just one little touch that feels truly original. But even without a unique calling card, the whole thing is loud and unrelenting and refuses to be ignored. We know we’ll be hearing it for months. We know it’s going to win us over. So, we might as well save the struggle and give in now.