It’s been interesting to watch Korea’s changing approach to the Japanese market. There was a time when the biggest K-pop idols boasted equally huge J-pop careers. Acts like Girls’ Generation, SHINee and Kara released a ton of original Japanese music, often embracing local tastes rather than copying the exact sounds that made them popular in Korea. Nowadays, K-pop idols seem more focused on other international markets. So, Korean companies have gone straight to the source and created their own J-pop acts, complete with K-pop style and sound.
I’m not a huge fan of this transformation. I want to love groups like JO1, INI and NiziU. Occasionally, they churn out an epic track, but more often than not their output comes across as reheated K-pop. Utilizing Korean talent-for-hire, the music and presentation feels overly assembly-lined, ready for its inevitable performance on every MNET-sponsored event. Such is the case with JO1’s winter single, Our Season (僕らの季節). It’s a nice slow-burn, showcasing a gentle energy and sentimental vocal. The chorus surges with satisfying synth and trendy percussion. There’s nothing “wrong” or “bad” about the song. It’s just so familiar.
One could easily compare Our Season to JO1’s 2020 single Shine A Light. Both are cut from the same musical cloth, but Shine A Light had a crisper sense of focus and a stronger melody. When Our Season gets going, it’s quite pleasant. But, the production feels overly murky, weighing down the verses even as the vocals want to soar. It’s a fine capper on the group’s super-successful 2021, but I’ll eagerly be waiting for another Born To Be Wild.