The name of YENA‘s title track, “Hate Rodrigo“, generated a wave of criticism, which seems pretty clearly what it intended to do from the start. Of course, anybody with a brain (not K-pop fans*) could’ve probably also surmised it wouldn’t be in any way literally hating on Olivia Rodrigo, and indeed the result is something borne out of playful jealousy over somebody that she admires, which sums up into a cute pop rock song even if not much more.
*The fact that many are saying “actually, it’s controversial because it’s cringe and desperate” or whatever makes this whole thing even dumber, honestly. Like alright man, but literally get on with your life and stop writing dissertations about it, it’s not some serious moral affront.
Anyway, don’t need me to tell you that this doesn’t reinvent the wheel, most notably leaning into Avril Lavigne‘s peppier side, but it also gets her back in the direction her own first two singles took as well. Regardless, “Hate Rodrigo” is perhaps her most complete single yet. While the chorus isn’t as engaging as “Smiley” and begs for something catchier and more explosive, it also has a significantly better guest verse from (G)I-DLE‘s Yuqi that helps a lot, and does everything a bit better than “Smartphone” did. It’s basically within what I could call the serotonin-boosting genre, and it serves its role well with a straightforward, momentum-building fun pop song.