[Review] JYPE’s NiziU debuts with peppy, pleasant, safe “Make You Happy”

I’m currently watching Nizi Project at the delayed pace that JYP Entertainment is releasing official subtitles, so I’ve pretty much given up hope when it comes to avoiding spoilers. And with debuting group NiziU releasing their first music video today, whatever shred I may have been clinging onto has completely disintegrated. So, I have surrendered. After all, nine of the thirteen finalists made it into the group anyway.

For me, the whole Nizi situation has been all about Mako. Right from the beginning, she was an incredible star, and I pictured her doing edgier, more Sumni-esque material (like her cover of 24 Hours on the show). Make You Happy is not edgy at all, but it wasn’t designed to be. It’s essentially a commercial introducing the new group, set to the retro r&b sounds the JYP has always cherished.

As much as I enjoyed each members’ time on the Nizi Project series, apart from Nina and Mihi I longed for more diversity in vocal tones. That sameness really impacts NiziU as a group. Much of Make You Happy is sung in solos, and if you weren’t watching the music video I think it would be difficult to tell the performances apart. It doesn’t help that Happy is such a feather-light song. From production to melody, the whole thing feels like a quick throwaway, which it probably is. Post-show pre-debuts have a tendency to be more of a stopgap than a meaningful entry in a group’s discography.

On the plus side, it’s nice to hear a bubbly pop track that doesn’t twist itself in a million different directions to appeal to current trends. As a group targeting the J-pop girl group market, NiziU have much more interesting and idiosyncratic competition to contend with. So, with a cautious eye toward their future, I hope they don’t simply rehash K-pop trends – or even worse, imitate Twice’s patchy J-pop discography.

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IATFB says: A rock solid debut, but nothing more and nothing less. Worth listening to just for the JYPE girl group references if nothing else. Hopefully it’s just their foundation to launch into something more adventurous cause based on this effort I think they have potential.

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