It’s been fascinating to watch Johnny’s & Associates navigate the digital world and decide how they want to engage with it. Older fans can remember a not-too-distant time when official YouTube uploads were the stuff of wild dreams. We still get plenty of (frustrating) short music video edits, but more and more the agency is embracing the digital marketplace. And now, they’ve done their own version of a surprise music drop, uploading a new song and video from one of their flagship groups. No forewarning was given, apart from a nebulous YouTube teaser. Yes, Johnny’s does teasers now, too!
As noteworthy as this is, the thing I find most interesting about Snow Man’s Juicy is just how closely it adheres to tropes and sounds ubiquitous in modern K-pop. The video itself has a glossy veneer, but the songwriting feels particularly familiar. This includes overused musical pet peeves bound to get me fuming, such as the dreaded “second verse tempo shift,” and a groovy, anti-drop chorus.
Johnny’s predates what we now call “K-pop” and set the blueprint for much of its eventual dominance. But because the agency has been so Japan-focused for so long, K-pop now becomes a natural competitor for international attention if Johnny’s decides to actively seek out a wider global audience. This push and pull intrigues me, and I’m eager to see how these forces work in conversation (or combat) across the next few years.
Anyway, back to the actual song. Juicy is a fine Snow Man track, though it feels as if its edges have been smoothed in favor of delivering maximum hit potential. The group covered similar ground in a more colorful way on last year’s Sugar, but their indelible personality gives Juicy character despite its generic leanings. As a primer for the group, it’s a gentle introduction. It lacks the quirk of their best work, yet hugs the listener in a wall of funky synth and ingratiating melody. And if nothing else, it gives the guys an opportunity to get dressed up and dance on top of tables in a fancy club. Nobody can be mad about that!