Song Review: Somi – XOXO

Somi - XOXO
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.

 Hooks 9
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8

29 thoughts on “Song Review: Somi – XOXO

  1. I would also probably give this an 8. The chorus is definitely catchy and the whole second verse is fun. Out of the 4 new songs, Anymore would probably be my buried treasure and I would give it an 8.5. Like ITZY’s Sooo Lucky, it’s a simple teen pop song but it’s a really good example of it with a strong chorus. I’m glad that she participated in writing/composing most of the songs. This a step in the right direction. I do hope we hear more from her in the future and she should never go back to songs like Birthday.


  2. I think most of all I’m feeling…relief that this seems to be a pretty good song that won’t provide more fodder for Somi’s detractors. Interesting that Pink Sweat$ is credited as one of the composers. It’s definitely my favorite compared to Birthday, What You Waiting For, and Dumb Dumb. It might actually make a casual listener check out the album.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree very much with this! The chorus is an earworm, but the production, especially the instrumentals in the chorus, is a bit lousy if you ask me. Nonetheless, it’s still a solid comeback.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had a feeling the chorus would be reviewed well but the rest of the song would be deemed boring. this kind of instrumental sounds great but it’s also a style without much personality.

    Fortuantely I find Somi’s performance full of personality and engaging throughout. I think these kinds of choruses are quite the specialty of YG/Teddy/Black Label.
    I like that this song doesn’t totally play into the trendy pop punk sound, rather hints. I would like to hear Somi’s take on true punk aka her version of Crooked.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I’m not sure about this one. I love the Gwen Stefani/Harley Quinn vibes on the MV but kept wanting a song that matched that energy. More Tank Girl, less Avril Lavigne? The whole EP is just a little low key, but who knows – “Dumb Dumb” grew on me a lot after watching the stages. I miss the obnoxious bonkers energy from “Birthday”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agree with this wholeheartedly. The video was cool but the song didn’t quite match it. This song would be totally out of place on the Birds of Prey soundtrack. And crucially, yes– I LIKED Birthday!!! Maybe it was goofy but at least it was unique. It’s the only one of her singles that hasn’t sounded like a discarded Blackpink solo track 😦

      Liked by 3 people

    • Although I’m re-listening to Avril Lavigne’s “Let Go” album now and she went a little harder than this. Also having college flashbacks in a good way. I’ve been noticing some of that Seattle sound popping back up again in k-rock recently and I’m 100% on board. I can’t remember if I’ve linked this here before or not, but it’s great if that’s your kind of jam and you don’t mind your Nirvana references hitting you in the head with a brick.

      Liked by 3 people

      • K-rock could use a little grunge influence. Word on the street is that JYP is planning to debut a new band, excited to see what sound they explore.


        • Hm, I wonder if that has anything to do with DAY6’s contracts coming up for renewal. Except for 2PM, JYP seems like it’s got a bit of a retention problem, but I suppose Twice, SKZ, Itzy, and NiciU are all doing great anyhow so who knows.


          • I feel like things will work out better for the newer groups tbh. As a fan, I’m a little worried for Twice since they literally never stop working. Luckily JYP hasn’t replicated the absolute hot mess that was Wonder Girls, Miss A, or even GOT7 just yet so I’m optimistic. That being said, Day6 is probably gone.

            Liked by 1 person

            • It is interesting how JYP’s strategy is to just replace departing groups with newer ones. Obviously every kpop company does that but in comparison to SM or YG, JYP seems COMPLETELY fine losing talent no matter how good or profitable they might be.

              Liked by 1 person

              • In my review for Itzy’s MAFIA, I created an (obviously fake) plan that JYP uses for his groups. It is surprisingly accurate lol.

                1. Debut artists with fresh, trendsetting, and interesting style which will instantly catapult them to stardom.

                2. Give them a few comebacks to become fan favorites. Give them minor songwriting opportunities.

                3. Realize they will leave the agency soon, give them bad songs.

                4. Throw them in the dungeon.

                5. Let fans wait.

                6. Let fans wait even more.

                7. Release a self-produced song for the group as they leave the agency after 7 years.

                8. Collaborate with them. If they are women they are a romantic option with JYP in his MV, and if they are men, they are rivals for love in the MV.

                Liked by 3 people

                • Yeah I saw that post not to long ago actually and it was hilarious ly spot on. Hoping Twice breaks the mold and doesn’t end up like Wonder Girls


                    • Yeah as crazy as it seems, I kinda wish we didn’t get so much shit from them. Love their music, love the girls but goddamn 2 albums, a mini, a concert, an English single, and ANOTHER JP single all in one year??? Plus they said they have another tour coming. JYP seems hellbent on ringing them for every last drop they can then tossing them to the side when contract negotiations time comes. Sigh.

                      On a lighter note, your blog is great lmao. Been reading it a decent bit lately. Keep up the good work.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Fully agree with you, JYP is milking them so bad, I would leave if I was Twice. The thing is the group really needs to find a way to stick together even if they leave, at least for a while. Otherwise, their fame will evaporate like IOI’s, unfortunately. JYP has not prepped them for solo in any way. I’d join Black Eyed Pilesung’s agency if I were them, actually. He wrote many of their songs, and he has shown he knows how to manage a hit group with StayC.

                      Thanks for reading so much Statickaa, I am glad that you are enjoying my writing! I’ll keep it up as long as I can!

                      Liked by 1 person

            • I’m never sure what to think of Twice’s being ‘overworked’, and it seems that the fandom is also divided on this – on the one hand, its seemingly obvious that (particularly this year) JYPE is milking Twice so bad, with how much stuff they’ve put out (with more yet to come, including another full album, Japanese single, and a world tour!). It seems clear that they definitely need some rest (and I see plenty of Onces call for the same).

              On the other hand, I’ve seen a lot of stuff about how the Twice members have said they’re bored when they’re not doing stuff, and have personally rejected claims that they need to rest. There’s plenty of Onces that push this theory, with some claiming that those who demand rest for Twice just don’t know them well enough, or are even just virtue signaling for likes. Apparently quite a lot of the output that was released this year was pre-recorded quite in advance, and also there were quite a few singles released this year that weren’t attached to albums/proper “comebacks” w/ a lot of promotion, potentially giving the illusion of a busier schedule than it really is. However, problems with the members’ health (I’m still quite worried for Jeongyeon) seems to counter the claim that the members are alright…

              I really don’t know if the members truly feel overworked or not, with how busy this year seems to have been…it does seem to be better than 2017/2018 at least. I’m also very uncertain on their future, which pains me to say as a big fan. Twice has always had a “9 or none” image, obviously stemming from JYP’s previous experiences with girl groups, particularly Miss A’s Suzy, but having basically no solo activities whatsoever is not the way to deal with that – when 6 years later into their career we’re only finally getting our first sub-unit songs (as just revealed B-sides on their upcoming album), that’s a bit concerning 💀. With such low solo prospects, the group does seem to have to stay together, but I don’t know how the group will survive intact unless they all genuinely do want to stay with JYPE, or somehow miraculously all transfer to another company. We’ll see…

              Liked by 2 people

          • I haven’t seen news about it in English, but I’ve seen a few Japanese articles over the past week or so saying Twice has entered the contract renewal stage already and that it’s not going well with several members either wanting out, a solo career, and two in particular wanting to return to their home countries to promote there. The general gist of most of the articles seems to be that the girls aren’t happy with their lack of individual promotions in any area and the amount of money the more popular members are losing out on because of it. On top of that, they are being worked constantly and usually it all falls into areas where JYP gets the bigger cut and the members are still stuck with dividing their part and having the cost for production and promotions deducted from their end as well. Whether there is any truth to the articles, I have no idea. But it does kind of seem to track with the vibe I’ve been getting from the members and the state of the group and their health. If they do renew, it will take a huge contract change (which is probably why word is leaking that the process has started already) and who knows if JYP will be willing to give up that much when they will already have 3 girl groups by the time it rolls around.

            Liked by 3 people

  6. Like everyone else here, it’s pretty decent nothing crazy but it fits with the current pop trends well enough. Half Lovesick Girls, Half Stay. MV was pretty cool tho. Somi looked amazing as per usual.


  7. I agree with the other comments that it’s just alright, but it’s definitely an improvement over her last title tracks! It’s hard to tell how this song will age for me – right now since it’s sitting at a “decent” it could grow or drop, but unfortunately already after listening to it some more the chorus is starting to wear on me in comparison to first listen…maybe that will change though.

    Really though, about the “full album”…I already wasn’t expecting much, thinking it would be a pretty short one (like Blackpink’s 8-song “full album”), but I wasn’t thinking it would be even worse at just 4 new songs 💀 (I really should have, tbh, given The Black Label’s history…).


  8. Unlike Dumb Dumb, nothing in this song really wowed me or even shooked me a little. Choreo was not memorable as well, it just went over my head, really. Would be more worth looping if it had a more satisfying last chorus. Adding a bit more oomph to a chant chorus in the last part like what BP did in lovesick girls would have been the icing ICING on the cake.


  9. I have a funny feeling that this is either a leftover BP track OR a potential Jennie comeback song that got scrapped (possibly in favor of Lovesick Girls). I’m not sure if anyone else noticed, but there is a direct and emphasized callback to Solo with the same “bich-i naneun solo” line at around 2 minutes into the MV. That seems remarkably strange to put in a song that was only intended for Somi considering it doesn’t callback to any of HER songs. If it wasn’t for the emphasis on it, I’d overlook it as a common line, but it is. The only other reason I can think of is marketing purposes since Somi has now signed to Interscope as well. But given that this album seems to have been a bit of a rush job (including her old title tracks and B-side) that was most likely made after Dumb Dumb did far better and had more longevity than was likely anticipated, using some cuts for BP that didn’t make their official releases wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

    As for the song itself, it’s just…. fine. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it brings nothing new to the table. It’s that anthemic type that is generally enjoyably, but it doesn’t even stand out among similar songs as well. I think it would have benefitted from upping the BPM a bit so the energy matches the sentiment (and also just sounds better). At least one of the choruses could have used an injection of adrenaline in the instrumental or a key change to make it feel less monotonous as well. As it is, it sounds like they couldn’t decide whether or not to stick with a more K-Pop sound or go a Drivers License type route. If Somi ever does gain a foothold in the West, and it certainly seems like that’s the direction they are moving in, I could see a permanent switch to the US market in her future. That seems to be the end goal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I noticed the reference to Jennie’s Solo as well, and I also found it incredibly strange – however, I don’t think the team was dumb enough to leave it accidentally as a leftover, given that she even does the same dance move there. For whatever reason, I think the reference was on purpose, but I cannot fathom why – other than the fact they are related by agency (and producer, I suppose), I can only imagine that it would make Blinks happy -> more fanbase support?? There’s other less obvious references too, quite a few scenes in the MV seem to evoke certain BP MVs as well…I don’t get the point

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ikr. I absolutely don’t get the point of having a callback to BP when you’re a solo artist trying to establish yourself with your first “full” album. I don’t think that making all her past songs be pre-release singles leading up to this song is worth it to do. It’s sad that The Black Label is so blatantly giving her left overs when they could switch things up and make something new for SOMI so she could be a new trend among their company sound and not just “conform” to the ancient “YG” sound but I guess they couldn’t care less given that they did it so blatantly.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.