The thing about glitter is that it's extremely polarizing. The people who love it, love it. It gleams and sparkles, reflecting light and casting an iridescent glow. It draws attention. When we see something shiny, it's hard to look away, and there's empirical evidence to suggest we actually can't. There are also those who find glitter to be too much — too distracting, unnervingly messy, and a little gauche. It's not for the wallflowers; you wear it to stand out. Glitter is about as subtle as "O.O," the provocative debut song from emerging Korean girl group NMIXX.
No release this year divided K-pop fans like "O.O," so much so that it's since become a litmus test within the community with both sides claiming superiority. Its critics write it off as being scattershot noise music, an abrasive roller-coaster ride through disjointed sounds and energies. Truthfully, it's an odd mix of baile funk, heavy guitar riffs, and big bass synths. And that's exactly why others love it. "O.O" didn't just eschew pop's formula; it blew it up, leaving everyone shell-shocked. There's a thrill to not knowing what comes next, to surrendering yourself to the song and going along for the ride.
"When we first heard it, it was kind of confusing," Jinni tells Teen Vogue from JYP Entertainment's headquarters in the Gangdong district of Seoul. Behind her sits Lily, the group's eldest and de facto interpreter for this interview. The Australia-raised vocalist takes to the role naturally, and she's exceptionally meticulous about conveying each member's exact thoughts. "But the more we heard it," dancer Jinni continues, "the more we realized its charms and attractions. The longer you listen to it, the better it gets."
They call it "MIXXPOP," the potent clash of genres in one track. For longtime K-pop fans, this might not seem all that ingenious. It is, in essence, what K-pop does best; Girls' Generation released their pioneering genre-switching single "I Got A Boy" in 2013, and just last year aespa's "Next Level" took the industry by storm. But NMIXX's steadfast commitment to aural asymmetry, as heard in "O.O" and their follow-up single "Dice," sprinkles some much-needed variability across a modern K-pop landscape that is experiencing growing pains. More often than not, songs are losing their luster to accommodate a global audience. "O.O" is a radiant cacophony of chaos. And to quote Lily's favorite artist, Taylor Swift, "People throw rocks at things that shine."