Re-brandings are pretty rare in K-pop, and a mixed bag when it comes to future success. Girl group Minx enjoyed a huge spike in notoriety after reforming as Dreamcatcher, but most of the time a relatively unknown act stays that way no matter what new name or concept is attached to them. Hot Place were formerly Badkiz, who I’ve written about a couple times on this site but have never made any major waves in Korea. New single TMI doesn’t seem to have any more of a budget behind it than the group’s previous material, but it has some appealing moments.
The song is at its best when it leans into older K-pop tropes, pulsing with an exuberant energy reminiscent of second gen group T-ara. It’s rare to hear such a straightforward club beat these days, and the bulk of TMI keeps this tempo going. Unfortunately, just after the first chorus, the group falls into the same trendy trap as so many of their peers. The song lurches into a heavy hip-hop verse, underlined by (you guessed it!) trap elements. It’s an especially jarring transition, and wholly unnecessary.
Before long, TMI returns to its perky arrangement. It’s a trashy brew, stuffed with air horn synths and pounding percussion, but this kind of unironic dance track is always welcome. The chorus almost verges on Korean trot, performed in a refreshingly straightforward manner that doesn’t try to force itself into being cute or hard. I doubt whether I’ll still be talking about this at the end of the year, but for now TMI feels like a successful re-launch for an underrated group.