Whatever happens going forward, I will always have a soft spot for Snuper. At their prime, the group delivered some of the best K-pop of this past decade. The frustrating irony is that most of that music has gone underappreciated and unknown, lost in the wake created by a-list acts with much bigger followings. But though they haven’t released a Korean song since 2018, Snuper have found refuge in Japan, where small but dedicated fan bases can keep an act going much longer than Korea’s more trend-happy climate.
Unfortunately, the move to Japan has also resulted in a fracture from production team Sweetune. As much as I love Snuper themselves, their biggest appeal was the incredible discography Sweetune produced for them. Without that unique touch, their work feels generic and extraneous, ticking off musical boxes without much idiosyncratic energy. Such is the case with new Japanese single Oxygen. The track hits all the expected tropes: deep house beat during the chorus, second verse tempo-shift. It does this with a certain amount of polish, but there’s nothing new here.
This is a problem, because J-pop has moved past these sounds. Even K-pop has begun exploring a new palette. Oxygen feels like a track from a year or two ago, and it lacks the kind of killer hook that might give it a fresh repainting. Its verses are moody boy group slop, neither here nor there. Things come into greater focus during the chorus, but even this melody feels familiar and overly repetitive. Snuper do a decent job selling the song. Unfortunately, there’s just not much here.