Compared to last year, I’ve been kind of underwhelmed by 2021’s releases from Johnny’s Entertainment so far. One bright spot has been Snow Man, who are quickly becoming one of my favorite acts in the agency. That has more to do with their rag-tag, self-effacing variety appearances than their music, but January’s Grandeur has proven to be a huge grower and one of my top J-pop singles of the year so far.
While that song offers a pummeling dance pop sound, new single Hello Hello is far sweeter. In fact, the track could easily be described as “saccharine,” which carries both positive and negative connotations. In this case, I think the sweetness is an asset. Hello Hello finds a series of fantastic pop melodies, tying them together with a strings-assisted instrumental that’s light and buoyant without going over the top.
I love the melody in Hello’s verses. The opening verse unfolds very nicely, with an understated vocal weaving its way through the contours of those strings. Its sense of rhythm is sprightly and optimistic. Then, the song brings in guitar for a more bombastic bridge. This makes for a great contrast, and really gets Hello going. The catchy chorus may prove more polarizing, as its hyper-melodic frame conforms to some of J-pop’s cutesier tendencies. But again, I think the track does a wonderful job harnessing this energy without tipping into a cloying place. It helps that its series of refrains feels so robust and well-structured. With that said, those looking for a more high octane dance track should check out the propulsive b-side YumYumYum (Spicy Girl).