It’s debut day for girl group Hot Issue, who join many of their peers as the latest attitude-infused act with a penchant for onomatopoeia chants and aggressive percussion. With the global success of groups like BLACKPINK and ITZY, this template has become a go-to style during this era in K-pop. Unfortunately, its brash energy is rarely to my taste and feels more derivative with each track that’s released.
A generation ago, this sort of edgy girl group fare was a staple on my playlist. 2NE1 ruled the roost, but they were supported by excellent songs with killer melodies. Even a song as melodically skeletal as I Am The Best never succumbed to an exhausting “rumpumpum” or “bambambam.” And that’s the biggest issue with Gratata (그라타타). It’s as much a cliché as it is a song.
This is despite some satisfying percussion and hints of vocal prowess that convince me Hot Issue are capable of greater things in the future. Unfortunately, Gratata’s threadbare chorus does them no favors. It’s laughably bad. “I’m a sniper!” “I’m gonna shoot, shoot, shoot!” “You’re gonna boom, boom, boom!”
I mean, the song kind of reviews itself, right? This is just silliness, but it’s performed in a way that never embraces the joke. Instead, we get that omnipresent, ‘pissed off cheerleaders’ delivery that characterizes too many modern comebacks, supported by a self-seriousness that makes the whole affair feel even more ridiculous. I hope their agency invests in stronger material for the first comeback, because this debut just gets lost in the shuffle.