Here’s why we can’t stop looking at the global girl group
XG has been in my peripheral vision for a long while. My first encounter, admittedly, would be a targeted ad on Twitter for one of their earlier songs—one I’d ignored while scrolling. Then came GALZ XYPHER, the video that had so many people in a chokehold, 88rising artists included. Cocona’s verse caught worldwide attention as she launched into trilingual verse, delivering bar after bar over J.I.D’s Surround Sound. The rest of the bunch, Maya, Harvey and Jurin, borrowed beats from Dreamville, Ty Dolla $ign and Rosalia to show their skills are equally at par.
Despite currently promoting in South Korea, the members of XG (Xtraordinary Girls) hail from Japan. Signed under XGALX, a sublabel under Japanese music giant Avex, plus recruiting the help of South Korean choreographers and creatives, Jurin, Chisa, Cocona, Hinata, Maya, Juria and Harvey set out to be a “global girl group.” We hear it in their all-English songs (so far, at least) and see it in their presentations: they aim to break beyond the typical girl group conventions. The world first caught wind of XG in March 2022 through Tippy Toes, a dark and edgy dance track. This sets the image we’ll see from the seven-piece confident and cool with a long-standing group's self-assurance. It makes sense; they’ve been training for this moment since 2017.
But much like their newly converted fans of XG, my believer's success story starts with Shooting Star.
The bass-heavy trap song often makes people think it will lead into an electronic dance drop before it tapers into a soaring R&B chorus. So instead, listeners get the treat of an addictive and dreamy anthem to groove along to. While the sound isn’t new to the world of K-pop, especially with the likes of BTS and Red Velvet mastering such sounds, we rarely see it outside of the usual B-side territory. (Case in point: LE SSERAFIM’s Impurities, a bop that needs more love than just a music video and a few performances.) But as the overwhelming reception to such songs show us, the public loves good music. It doesn’t need to have the usual upbeat, heart-thumping and addictive qualities of a dance track, because if the song is good enough, audiences will tune in regardless.
With Tippy Toes and Mascara, XG proved that they could nail the hypnotizing dance anthems. But Shooting Star and Left Right show more of XG’s colors. After veering away from muted neutrals, the girls take on the colorful and vibrant Y2K aesthetic while keeping listeners on the edge of their seats. So amid tough competition, such as NewJeans’ continuous reign on the charts and Tomorrow X Together and NCT 127 as worthy rivals during promotions, the girls of XG hold their heads high as they forge their paths as an act to keep our eyes on. And no, that’s not just the magic of the matching royal blue wigs or the BeReal-style visuals.
Sonically, Left Right leans towards glittery Y2K pop and R&B, a genre the world has no problem embracing with open arms. Add the perfect balance of sweet, saccharine vocals with swaggy, melodic raps—XG members are far from rocking the boat in one member’s favor. Instead, they deliver and let each one shine when the spotlight lands on them. Visibly, XG’s synergy gets highlighted in the simplest of outfits, such as matching cargo pants, bucket hats and white baby tees. All members move in precise synchronicity that you can’t exactly tell who’s who in the best way possible—because they all complement each other perfectly.
TL;DR: XG’s uniqueness doesn’t lie in its unconventional origins. Instead, they stand as a case of what creative risks, unbridled talent and the blurring of boundaries can lead to: a force to be reckoned with. Safe to say, we’ll keep our eyes on this bunch of shooting stars for more.
Art Macky Arquilla