Welcome to Fan Chant, a weekly column for K-pop fans, stans, and newbies alike. Each week, I’ll be rolling out interviews, lists, and all kinds of content to keep you in the loop on the latest and greatest from our friends in Seoul and beyond. Also, make sure to subscribe to my companion newsletter!
This past fall in Seoul, the song “Hype Boy” by NewJeans was nothing short of ubiquitous.
The song was playing in the market in Insadong, shopping malls in Myeondeong, restaurants and convenience stores along the Han River, and even pulsing from the brightly colored bars in Hongdae at night, hoping to attract customers like me. It seemed like people across demographics were listening to NewJeans, the freshly debuted group out of ADOR, subsidiary of HYBE, but the hype didn’t stay contained to South Korea.
In just a few months since their July 2022 debut, Minji, Hanni, Danielle, Haerin and Hyein have already started to go global, their string of absurdly catchy, hopeful, and youthful singles pulling in listeners with varying levels of interest in K-pop. Ariana Grande hasn’t given us new music in a while; in the meantime, considering queuing up NewJean’s “Cookie.” Nostalgic for girl groups of the early 2000s? “Attention” is the way to go. For film buffs with a keen eye, their music videos are a treasure trove; the latest, “OMG,” deftly references director Park Chan Wook’s 2006 I’m A Cyborg, But That’s OK.
“OMG” is the focus track for a single album of the same name, which was released on January 2nd and preceded by the equally refreshing “Ditto.” The two tracks, “OMG,” with its irresistibly bouncy vibe and “Ditto” with its deconstructed club beat, manage to provide high-energy sounds and choreography while keeping the quintet planted comfortably in an appropriately youthful space. The girls, whose ages range from 14 to 18, recall stateside showstoppers like The Cheetah Girls and Miley Cyrus, acts that defined coming-of-age for so many millennials; while plenty of K-pop girl groups offer high-octane spectacle, NewJeans are the classic, grounded return to form we didn’t know we needed.
I linked up with Minji, Hanni, Danielle, Haerin and Hyein to discuss the new single album, OMG, their budding team dynamic, their favorite winter soundtracks, and much more. Read the full interview with the group below.