I’d like to think NINE.i’s name is so literal that it means the members have nine eyes (five members + an eye patch?). But alas, there are ten members. That makes twenty eyes and a bit of confusion on my part. Upon further research, it looks like NINE.i (inexplicably) stands for “Everyday NEW.i.”
Kidding aside, the arrival of a new idol group is always exciting. Will they debut with a unique, thrilling sound or model themselves after existing trends? NINE.i’s Parallel Universe doesn’t do either. It’s not trendy enough to slot within K-pop’s current landscape, nor does it offer any specific perspective. The song plays it right down the middle. If K-pop had an “adult contemporary” category, this would be it. I think this is a dangerous approach for a debuting rookie in an already over-saturated market, but what do I know?
Parallel Universe is… (wait for it)… fine. The sentimental melodies are fine. The vocal performance is fine. Nothing stands out as particularly good or particularly bad. I do love the sci-fi synth that emerges during the song’s second half, injecting the otherwise plodding instrumental with a unique texture for the first time. Had the entire track harnessed this energy, we could be looking at a very exciting debut. Parallel Universe’s second verse adds more propulsion to the track, but never builds toward any highlight beyond its pleasant, familiar chorus. Hints of potential spring up here and there, but this song could have been performed by almost anybody. Hopefully, NINE.i will have more tricks up their sleeves in the future.