Up to this point, we’ve been lucky to get one or two tracks from Somi each year. Now, she’s released her first full album with (brace yourself…) four new songs! Beggars can’t be choosers, and I’m glad she has a chance to flesh out her sound. New title track XOXO is composed by the usual cadre of YG-related talent, and continues the westernized style that’s made Somi such a crossover star.
XOXO hails from the BLACKPINK Lovesick Girls school of anthemic, sung-in-unison choruses. If we reach back even further into pop history, it’s reminiscent of the lighters-in-the-air, “F U!” sound of dancefloor warriors Icona Pop. It goes without saying that I wish XOXO opted for a sound as big and brash as theirs, but the minimalist, trap-influence beat works just fine.
I’m more enamored with XOXO’s chorus, which is a catchy little earworm. It doesn’t offer any new ideas or surprises, but within this realm of attitude-infused, cathartic pop music the song gets its job done. Somi delivers a confident vocal, at once powerful and expressive. I fear the melody becomes too repetitive as the track wears on, but I appreciate the cohesion in sound and structure. From the outset, XOXO clearly sets its mission and delivers on expectations. The second verse is especially fun, as familiar melodies are countered by well-placed blasts of rap. I would have loved to hear XOXO grow more emotional and immense, as it feels like the track is missing a climax. The producers could have done something interesting with the beat or arrangement to truly make this a standout.