If I were to chart my listening habits over the past month or so, it would look something like: 80% J-pop, 10% Finnish pop (!), 5% American pop and 5% K-pop. Pretty strange for a K-pop blogger, right? That’s a testament to just how stalled the industry has become since November. It’s no surprise, then, that one of January’s buzziest songs in K-pop circles isn’t even technically K-pop. XG are a Japanese girl group based in South Korea. These two industries have blended for many years, but currently it feels like K-pop trends have more sway among Japanese audiences than J-pop has on Korean listeners.
I won’t bore you with my thoughts on this phenomenon except to say that I’m generally not a fan of “K-pop” sounding J-pop songs (a very nebulous description, I’m aware). I took one listen to XG’s 2022 debut Tippy Toes and never returned to it. It’s not a bad song, but there’s already a surplus of this sound in K-pop. When follow-up Mascara arrived last summer, it felt like a nail in the coffin of my interest in XG. So, new single Shooting Star arrives without much personal anticipation.
Thankfully, we get to hear more from the group’s vocalists on this track. Their tones are very pleasant when they’re not shouting catchphrases, and Shooting Stars’ addictive pre-chorus is bolstered by an appealing blend. But apart from that moment, I feel like I’ve heard these melodies a million times before. They’re underlined by bog-standard trap pop and an atmospheric loop that threatens to grate depending on how sensitive you are to higher-pitched tones. I can see how this general vibe would enrapture those who enjoy the style. It just doesn’t do much for me. On the plus side, I think there’s ample room to grow. Shooting Stars improves with further listens and the group clearly has charisma to spare. They just need a sound and song unique to them.