In a year already flush with debuts, JYP Entertainment’s ITZY are easily the highest profile yet. Not only do they hail from one of the big three agencies, but several of its five members have already made their name on variety shows like MIXNINE and The Fan. With agency peers Twice leading the girl group charge, ITZY promises to offer an edgier alternative. As debuts go, Dalla Dalla (달라달라) may be a little all-over-the-place. But, it does a good job offering a sampler of what we can expect from the girls’ future.
At many points, Dalla Dalla feels like several songs in one. The electro strut of its verses recalls imperial-era 2NE1, driven by a shot of attitude in bratty, sing-talk style. From here, the track moves into poppier territory, anchored by a surprisingly bright chorus. Though not completely out of the blue, this section flips expectations as the synths amp up and the tone becomes much happier than the opening verse seemed to promise. This mood is built upon by a chanted post-chorus hook that quickly becomes Dalla’s catchiest moment.
From here, things get a bit messy. Second verse hip-hop breaks are nothing new in K-pop, but Dalla’s extended plunge into heavier territory really shifts the momentum. In fact, this entire segment between choruses refuses to follow any expected structure. I’m not sure how well it works, but I admire the chutzpah. Things get back on track for the dramatic bridge, which brings back the chanted elements for a standout build to the final chorus. In the end, Dalla Dalla lacks the kind of through-line to make it an instant classic, but its energy is pretty infectious. It feels like the aural equivalent of being slapped around, and that may not be a bad thing. After all, debuts are meant to stand out. Dalla may overexert itself, but it certainly grabs attention.