It’s been a very slow month (or year?) for K-pop, but the arrival of new JYP girl group NMIXX feels like 2022’s first big moment. Debuts from agencies of JYP’s caliber always bring a ton of hype, even if the song itself doesn’t meet expectations. With O.O, NMIXX deliver an attention-grabbing track, but I expect fans’ reactions to be more satisfying than the song itself.
Having been a K-pop fan for a decade or so, I’ve watched industry trends switch with new generations. O.O is emblematic of where K-pop has been heading for a while. It’s less about the song than it is about imagery, concept and energy. Heck, “O.O” isn’t even a full word! The track wants to feel provocative and complex, but skips the basic elements that give pop music its potency. I’d almost call it punk rock, except nothing this carefully produced and market-researched could ever be considered “punk.” O.O plays like a highlight medley, stuffing three disparate pieces together. I admire the ambition, but ambition without execution comes across as messy. The track wants to be JYP’s version of I Got A Boy — or even Next Level. Those songs could certainly be called “scattershot,” but each individual piece had its charms.
With O.O, we’ve got a very cool rock-inspired verse stuffed between two cacophonic sing-shout segments. Unfortunately, the centerpiece outshines everything around it. This melodic oasis is not nearly long enough. Instead, O.O’s lean running time is largely comprised of boisterous cries and chants. There’s not much structure here – no direction or purpose for all this raging and posturing. A stronger song would have harnessed this energy to full effect, drawing contrast with a dynamic arrangement. O.O’s pots-and-pans instrumental is just as deafening as NMIXX’s performance. Loud + Loud = Boring (which might as well be the name of the group’s next single…). And with eleven credited songwriters, O.O’s Frankenstein-like sound is no surprise. A song this daring needs a clear, singular vision. Instead, it feels like an audition reel for all the concepts NMIXX hope to tackle. If that’s the case, I’ll be waiting until they get to the “cool rocker chick” stage of their career.