Halfway through their solo Underground Idol series, OnlyOneOf have reunited as a full group for their first original Japanese single. I imagine Zurui Onna as an interlude. Or, maybe it’s just another excuse for the guys to dance around with their shirts off. Whatever the case, it’s an inauspicious move into a market that should be ripe for their daring lore and high-concept releases.
J-pop is too vast and diverse to funnel into a few keywords, but Zurui Onna has a very specific sound that K-pop idols often pursue when breaking into the Japanese market. It’s more lyrical and melodic, but in a way that’s almost understated. The focus isn’t placed upon one big centerpiece or memorable point move. The melody stretches and glides, just out of reach. The song is catchy enough, but I wouldn’t call it hooky. It’s like a beautiful vase sitting on the shelf. You can look, but don’t touch.
This is all to say that Zurui Onna is… fine. It’s not a particularly interesting OnlyOneOf song, nor does it harness any of their most idiosyncratic attributes (shirtlessness aside, of course). It’s nice to hear their individual voices more clearly, and the instrumental offers a satisfying sense of build and payoff. But, too much of the song plays like a straight line, weaving safely along J-pop tropes without the thrilling bumps in the road that characterize the group’s best work. It’s also a bit slow and reserved for a dance track. For me, Zurui Onna should have been built around the cool, muted saxophone that emerges during its dance break. That’s the kind of beguiling hallmark I always love to hear from OnlyOneOf.
**EDIT: it’s come to my attention that this is actually a cover of a 90’s song! This doesn’t change my feelings about OnlyOneOf’s version, but it definitely explains its slightly old-fashioned style.