In an exciting turn of events, debuting girl group NewJeans are blitzing the K-pop market with a surprise set of pre-release videos before their album drops in August. This uncharacteristic approach feels very fresh for the industry and, so far, the music has felt quite new as well. Songs like Attention and Hype Boy have a global pop sound that will be familiar to most. But their focus on vocals and relatively straightforward song construction go against 2022’s K-pop grain. There’s something very natural about these tracks.
I don’t like Hype Boy as much as yesterday’s Attention, but there’s no denying how strongly its languid sound fits within current pop trends. The vocals sound great – freed from the hyper affectations usually placed upon groups. The girls luxuriate in the melody, pulling and twisting the notes in a way that feels confident and carefree. They’re making a strong impression even before their individual personas are known. That’s another welcome shift for K-pop.
Musically, Hype Boy doesn’t distinguish itself as memorably as I’d like. It’s laidback and fun and its hook has a cyclical energy that’s bound to work its way under your skin with repeated listens. Verses meld seamlessly with choruses, crafting a track that feels like one hot summer afternoon. Tropical chirps meet future bass style synths, giving Hype Boy a hazy – almost melty – quality. The percussion picks up during the hook, and I’m quite partial to the warped loop that caps off this segment. I don’t see this becoming my favorite track on the upcoming album, but I appreciate the vibe it’s setting for NewJeans.