After the wild success of their subtle yet addictive pre-release song “Ditto” — which has held up well, as it’s still echoing through my head as I type that — NewJeans have released the actual single in “OMG“. While it sure seemed likely it would end up taking a backseat to its B-side, it’s impressive how they’ve managed to continually restore a freshness within their sound and pair that with some of the best music videos in a while.
With “OMG”, NewJeans gave their take on a UK garage and hip-hop fusion, again crafting a slick production that’s subtly danceable, conveying a chill vibe with a hint of haunting or foreboding to it. The soft creeping synths in particular are a strength that pair well with rapid percussion that underscores the whole effort.
It’s still mostly a laidback vibe, but the repetitive “who is he” question punctuating the pre-chorus is memorable in itself. “OMG” also arguably possesses NewJeans’ most bouncy pop chorus since “Hype Boy” with its “oh my, oh my god” hook that ends up sweetly addictive, as the instrumental switches to more of a trap rhythm with keyboards before it ends by returning to a faster tempo as a part of a particularly notable post-chorus with background “oohs” on repeat. The verses are very short, but the transitions in “OMG” are seamless and help to elevate the effort since it feels relentless, especially when it gets to the stellar bridge that’s a rather novel insertion for a NewJeans track, hitting the listener with more aggressive percussion along with claps. They should it more often.
And again, I’m not sure if there’s an individual standout vocal in the group, and quite frankly I still can’t recognize the members by sound alone, but they are all delivering during their parts and blend so as to not distract from the slick production. All the parts for NewJeans just seem to fit together so well compared to groups that seem to jump around in terms of vibe and end up trying to cram a star into a rhombus or something. It’s a complicated undertaking to keep a certain signature sound yet make the product diverse enough that it doesn’t necessarily all meld together, but NewJeans manage to thread the needle for me.
The main reason I posted the audio of “OMG” above is that the music video is rather distracting. Fortunately, I mean that in a good way as it’s intriguing and takes the viewer on a captivating ride that delivers a twist ending. It’s a rather surreal switch in their lore, which started out seemingly rather simple and carefree, but ending up getting meta as hell and put them in a literal psychiatric ward. An allegory for the life of an idol? Perhaps. But the storyline, even read straight, piques interest regardless.
It seems as if the members all have their own narrative of what they are as a group and as individuals, which they are manifesting as what we’ve seen so far over their careers. Or maybe this is just the reality of one member who has lost her sanity. Or it could be that they’re being gaslit (a reference so ‘in’ right now) by Ban Heesoo and they need to claw their way back to reality. Or maybe this is some metaverse Kwangya-ass world. Either way, I sorta feel like I’m deciphering K-pop Rashomon or something, which is honestly a rather nice place to be.