Just two weeks ago, no one knew who or what a “NewJeans” was, but thanks to a smart pre-debut blitz of music videos and the inarguable power of the HYBE empire, the group debuts with a massive number of album pre-orders and a million YouTube views. So much for slowly and steadily working your way to the top! When Attention first dropped, I was intrigued and eager to see how the group might build on its sound. But, I should have remembered: K-pop agencies always lead with their strongest material. Follow-up Hype Boy grew into another standout, but the slower Hurt didn’t do it for me. And now, we have… Cookie.
I like cookies. Who doesn’t? They’re delicious, portable and easy to make. “Cookie” has also become a euphemism that this group of minors is exploiting in a problematic way. That’s all I’ll say about that, but it deserves to be mentioned because K-pop agencies really need to get their shit together on this front.
As far as the song? It’s boring. Like, super, super dull. Gone are the featherlight harmonies and quirky beat of Attention. They’re replaced by generic production that melds plonky, future bass-inspired synths with trap percussion. The beat remains inert throughout the track, delivering a languid energy that lacks bounce until the bridge. Similarly, Cookie’s melody sees the group taking an indifferent approach to performance. I get that NewJeans’ music is branded as “sophisticated,” but I prefer feeling a little fire behind a vocal. NewJeans sound bored and detaching throughout most of the song. That’s an aesthetic choice on the part of the producers, and I’m sure it will work for many listeners. But, it feels so halfhearted. You’ve got to give me a reason to care, girls!