Japan’s first season of Produce 101 spawned boy group JO1, who made their debut this March with their single Infinity. For me, that song amounted to little more than a checklist of boy group tropes, but it did quite well for the guys. Now, they’re back with the bigger, ballsier Oh-Eh-Oh. Co-produced by Pentagon’s Hui, this feels like a leap forward for JO1.
Oh-Eh-Oh is much more confident and focused in its sound, and that goes a long way toward painting JO1 as a convincing group of their own, rather than simply the product of a survival series. The song finds Hui in full Energetic/Sha La La mode. He pulls the driving electronic beat from both of those tracks and makes it even beefier, injecting a heavy dose of rock guitar that’s particularly dynamic as the song reaches its finale. Oh-Eh-Oh is as much shouting as it is singing, which hinders its ability to settle on an engaging melody. But given the unrelenting energy of its instrumental, I think this structure works.
Oh-Eh-Oh’s second verse is particularly rowdy. Like so many K-pop tracks this past year, it surrenders to half-time for a moment. But, this allows for a bombastic injection of guitar that works well within the context of the existing production. JO1 prove themselves up to the task, delivering a searing performance that matches the intensity swirling around them. Apart from the J-drama music video, Oh-Eh-Oh borrows much more heavily from K-pop than J-pop. But, that’s been JO1’s approach since the beginning. And this time, their music has eclipsed many recent releases from their Korean peers.