DIA are back with their annual comeback, but this time they’re down two members. Apparently, this release operated on a volunteer basis, where willing participants chose to join promotions, and other members (Chaeyeon and Somyi) opted out. It’s a novel approach, and I’m all for artists have more control over their own career. But, this halfhearted configuration can’t help but call into question just how committed MBK Entertainment is to the DIA brand. Of course, MBK has had a long history of poor management, so this is hardly a surprise.
Hug U (감싸줄게요) isn’t a surprise, either. It’s a toothless piece of pop music, so forgettable that I hardly blame the girls for questioning their own participation. What’s most surprising is that this is composed by the Seo Youngbae/Iggy team – one of my favorite producer duos of the past few years. After forging GFriend’s iconic sound for their first several years, the duo has mostly worked separately. I’ve been longing for a reunion, but Hug U is not what I had in mind. It feels more like an abandoned scrap, repurposed for a quick summer release.
The Youngbae/Iggy hallmarks are all there. Wispy strings, slightly subdued New Jack Swing percussion, bright harmonies and a general sense of refreshing innocence. However, Hug U feels much more like an unspectacular GFriend b-side than a world-conquering hit in the vein of Rough or Navillera. I’m predisposed to liking this sound template, and would probably enjoy it more in the context of an album. But as a comeback single – especially after almost fifteen months of hiatus – it leaves a lot to be desired. Oh, DIA… will you ever find your niche and stick to it?
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