NewJeans’ new wave


photo by ADOR

NewJeans consists of members Minji (18), Hanni (18), Danielle (17), Haerin (16) and Hyein (14). Although their young debut was controversial, their innovative music and style has captured audiences around the world.



Released Jan. 2, “OMG” is the first single album by NewJeans, a rising star in K-pop who made headlines with their new and fresh concept reminiscent of Y2K fashion. 

Debuting on July 22 with their hit single “Attention,” NewJeans made a name for themselves as the fastest girl group to win a Daesang, the highest music award possible for K-pop artists. 

Although the group faced recent controversy over their single, “Cookie,” for sexual lyrics sung by a group of underage girls, NewJeans’ “OMG” sidelines the “Cookie” controversy with its brilliant storyline and refreshing ideas. 

Ever since worldwide phenomenon Blackpink hit the stage, many K-pop groups have followed in their footsteps with a “girl crush” concept. Although initially popular, the concept suffers from overuse, repetition, and cringe-worthy lyrics. Just compare Blackpink’s “I’m not like the other girls at all” lyric from “Typa Girl” to NewJeans’ “And I’m starting to get confused between / ‘what others say about me’ and the ‘real me’” from “OMG.” NewJeans brings a much-needed fresh take to an often oversaturated K-pop market, and brings hope that the future of K-pop will not simply be known as Blackpink’s shadow. 

Comprised of two singles, “Ditto” and “OMG,” the album plays with slow and laxed beats, as opposed to mainstream K-pop that emphasizes “cool” lyrics, rap, and flashiness over the actual meaning of the songs. Although the group was initially criticized for debuting with an underage cast, NewJeans uses their age to their advantage, coining lyrics in both “Ditto” and “OMG” that express the child-like excitement and thrill of a high school crush. This minimalist approach provides fans a reprieve from the usual “bang bang bang” style of K-pop, and has proven successful, awarding NewJeans “Rookie of the Year” and “Performance of the Year” at the 2022 Asia Artist Awards. Although NewJeans’ target audience is a young Generation Z, their music is relatable to all ages, sympathetic to the struggles of today’s youth and a reminder of their younger days for older audiences. 

The album is not only praised for its catchy tune and innovative style, but the ingenuity of its music videos. With the lyrics playing in the background, “Ditto” crafts a fictional storyline between the NewJeans members (Hanni, Haerin, Minji, Danielle and Hyein) and their friend Ban Hee-soo, played by “All of Us Are Dead” actress Park Ji-hoo. In previous scenes, we see the five NewJeans members laughing and smiling with Hee-soo, but in the next, we see the same shot, same scene, except there are no NewJeans members. Hee-soo is filming alone, sitting alone, sleeping alone. 

Although the video is largely up for interpretation, an in-depth analysis suggests that the video depicts the relationship between idol and fan. To Hee-soo, a normal high-schooler, the members of NewJeans are her K-pop idols and best friends, experiencing the ups and downs of life together. But as time goes on, reality settles in. They are not friends. They are idols, and she is a fan, and they lead vastly different lives. As Hee-soo grows up, she starts distancing herself from the idols and fandom she once loved. She gets a boyfriend, played by actor Choi Hyun-wook. She graduates. She moves on with her life. 

With varying camera angles, long-shots and close-ups, and purposeful glitches, “Ditto” is more than a music video–it is a commentary on the idol world and the sometimes problematic attachments fans have. Insightful and deep, “Ditto” brings a real world issue up for debate, something that much of K-pop often lacks with its filler words and empty lyrics. 

“OMG” does not falter in this respect either. The video depicts the NewJeans members in an asylum, with a narration by Hanni about being Siri: “I exist for you / When you call, I’ll run to you anywhere anytime.” These lyrics, which seem like they were taken out of a love song, is perhaps a commentary on our addictive attachment to our phones, to the point where they are like a loved one we cannot live without. 

Perhaps what can be appreciated the most is the thought that was put into this album, depicting a storyline that is more than money or beauty or fame. As one of many fans who were disappointed by Blackpink’s comeback due to their meaningless lyrics about Lamborghinis and runways, NewJeans’ “OMG” album was both novel and nostalgic, an ode to today’s youth and those that came before them.