Since their debut in 2015, Seventeen has established themselves as an idol group that never disappoints. There’s a sense of comfort whenever they return because you know the song won’t fall below a certain level of quality. It helps that, along with in-house producer Bumzu, they compose their own material. But this consistency can also be a double-edged sword. The guys have delivered showstopper after showstopper, so what happens when a comeback is simply “strong” or “solid”? After all, it’s awfully hard to compete with a showstopper.
This is new single Oh My’s biggest challenge. It’s a perfectly fine pop song, stuffed with the kind of light funk influence that’s characterized much of Seventeen’s work. It’s buoyant and well-constructed, but it is definitely not a showstopper. And when it comes to a Seventeen track — especially a Seventeen summer track — that’s unfortunate. Instead of bounding forward with the kind of tightly packed energy they deliver so well, Oh My (어쩌나) is laidback and modest.
As usual, much of my response to the song is colored by expectations. Last time Seventeen made a July comeback, it was with Very Nice — a modern classic if ever there was one. Oh My doesn’t seek to replicate that kind of ambition. It’s more in keeping with what we’d hear from the group’s hip-hop unit, or even their SVT Leaders track Change Up. Its mid-tempo beat ditches tropical house (thankfully), for a mellower blend of synth and piano. Like the best Seventeen tracks, its verses switch things up often, resulting in an improvisational flow that leads nicely into the more straightforward chorus. Oh My’s hook is catchy from the first listen, but feels too much like coasting. Seventeen’s sterling discography has definitely earned them the right to coast, but they’re overdue for another summer anthem.