While AOA remains on hiatus, leader Jimin is back with her second solo single in conjunction with W Magazine. October’s “Hallelujah“ seemed to be on the cusp of trends by incorporating a Latin touch, but “Hey” reverts to a bratty sound that Jimin has become known for. After all, she is the undisputed queen of the “hey” ad-lib, sprinkling the titular word across AOA singles with an almost comical regularity.
As with past solo singles, Jimin’s chirpy tone will be an acquired taste. Without an entire group’s worth of vocals to offer a diversity of sound, the performance here comes off as pretty one-note. I happen to find Jimin’s helium-laced voice to be charming and unique (at least in small doses), but “Hey” would have benefited from a guest rapper or vocalist to play off of. Instead, we get a sing-song hook that brings a lot of attitude but little substance. She’s better during the almost-melodic pre-choruses, which feel a bit more restrained and palatable.
Luckily, the production on “Hey” is suitably bombastic. The track is drenched in all manner of synths and brass loops and stomping percussion. It’s not a particularly unique or memorable instrumental, but its sense of bigness gets the job done. This density of sound plays well against Jimin’s performance, treating her voice as another layered element driving the track forward. It may not be high art, but it’s a momentary thrill that will hold fans over until AOA makes their long-awaited return.