When last year’s contract negotiations ended with three of its members leaving SM Entertainment to pursue other endeavors, the future of Girls’ Generation seemed to be in flux. The group could have easily seen their tenth anniversary as a natural ending point and went their separate ways. But lucky for us, Girls’ Generation is back — albeit in a slightly different configuration. Oh!GG is ostensibly a sub-unit of the main group, though it consists of all of every member who remains under SM’s management.
To be honest, I didn’t expect any new Girls’ Generation material (other than solos) this year, so the very existence of Lil’ Touch (몰랐니) is a welcome surprise. Better yet, the song is a refined piece of dance pop worthy of the group’s a-list status. SM promised an addictive chorus, and Lil’ Touch definitely delivers in that regard. Its bouncy hook is instantly memorable, with each line swirling around the next until the vocals almost overlap. It’s like some strange K-pop incantation.
Lil’ Touch could have easily worked as straight-up tropical house, but the instrumental pulls from a wider palette. The dynamic beat flirts with bhangra influences, and even has a bit of a Bollywood vibe. This willingness to experiment gives the track just the right amount of trendiness without sounding like everything else the industry is churning out. It helps that we’re so familiar with the group’s vocals. There’s a nostalgic thrill when Taeyeon kills it with her beguiling pre-chorus, and fist-pumping joy when Sunny pulls it off just as well the second time around. Meanwhile, Hyoyeon and Yoona tag-team for a second verse blast of hip-hop reminiscent of the group’s 2011 hit The Boys. Lil’ Touch is far from Girls’ Generation’s most striking single, but by drawing from so many aspects of their career, it’s a definite reminder that these ladies are here to stay.