A year into their debut, the NewJeans shows us they’re here to stay
It’s been a year since NewJeans made their splash with a surprise drop of Y2K-fied music videos and infectious 90s R&B songs made for the modern listener. While it took time for the world to retire Hype Boy from the charts (but never their playlists), OMG and Ditto quickly became new favorites we loved to listen to. Pepper in individual brand deals with the most prominent luxury names in beauty and fashion and a dedicated McDonald’s meal, NewJeans has remained on everyone’s radars as they prepared for their latest EP, Get Up.
The first (actual) taste to Get Up is New Jeans, a cool and hypnotic blend of UK garage and Jersey club beats. “Make it feel like a game / Look at us, we go on and on again / We'll go on to the end / What we wanna do, on and on again,” the members hum over the twinkling touches and choppy beats, an active acceptance of the attention they’ve received and will continue to command.
It’s no secret that NewJeans sings a lot about romance, the crushes we pine for from a distance and the people whose names we probably scribbled in a game of M.A.S.H. But at the same time, they perfectly balance the infatuation with reality checks, further explored by the narratives and lyrics of Get Up. It’s a story fitting for their peers as they further explore the complexities of romance.
Super Shy, another early release, stands as the second track to the sophomore EP and arguably one of the more popular songs from the six-track body of work. Drum and bass beats wrap around saccharine-sweet and cheeky lyrics about the effects of having a crush, a formula that continues to work for the group. Meanwhile, ETA, with a music video lensed purely with an iPhone 14 Pro Max, counts as the EP’s token high-octane entry. (Higher than Super Shy, anyway.) The song still retains the group’s penchant for Jersey Club influences of fast beats, punctuated with brass horn embellishments as they snitch on their friend’s cheating boyfriend—like the loyal gal pals we all should strive to be.
The sweeter synths we loved from OMG come together with the fast rhythm of drum kicks in Cool With You, another dazed and dreamy love song that totally screams “you and me against the world.” With two music videos top billed by Squid Game’s Jung Hoyeon and In The Mood For Love’s Tony Leung, the modern retelling of Cupid and Psyche further pushes the narrative. This melancholic mood follows through with the criminally short Get Up, an R&B-led interlude that flips the infatuation into a challenge to prove if the love is worth it.
The EP closes out with ASAP, a fluttery sweet track with a repetitive “tik, tok, tik, tok, tik, tok, tik, tik, tik” that itches some part of the brain. Steady and addictive, the track closes Get Up on a high note, as if their crushes reciprocated after the interlude and rekindled their will-they-or-won’t-they tango in the Gen Z equivalent of hogging the landline: pressing red before calling all over again.
One thing that makes NewJeans a popular group is their effortless balance of sweet and serious, cheeky but honest. If anything, the group and the team behind them, led by Min Heejin, know how to cook up cohesive bodies of work. While the verdict is still out if any of the songs from Get Up can surpass the movements Hype Boy and OMG organically created, the EP itself is a masterclass of sticking to a signature sound while creating distinguishable songs—an ambitious task that often makes albums bleed into one, long song.
As one can see, NewJeans has continued to keep their no-skip streak. While some singles stand out more than others, their long and continuously expanding list of hits leaves us waiting for what’s next.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver