At a point in time when Y2K nostalgia is at its peak, doing things differently is no easy feat, but NewJeans have somehow found a way. The K-pop quintet is the first group to ever debut from ADOR, an independent label under HYBE led by industry veteran Min Heejin. In just over six months, they have left their mark on the scene with their youthful concept and penchant for disregarding pre-established norms.
Minji, Hanni, Danielle, Haerin, and Hyein's introduction foretold how atypical NewJeans' path would be. In July of 2022, the music video for "Attention" dropped, signaling their official debut. It was almost unannounced, save for various hints posted by Min herself. "Hype Boy" followed suit two days later with an intro and four member-specific music videos. A visual for B-side "Hurt," though much tamer in terms of production, was unveiled the following day. NewJeans' self-titled debut EP finally arrived on August 1, including "Cookie" for a total of four tracks, three of which were essentially lead singles. Except for "Hurt," which admittedly flew under the radar for the general public, the three other songs immediately became staples, racking up spots on multiple "best" end-of-year lists, K-pop centric and beyond. Topping that would be hard, but NewJeans play a different game.
The group's sophomore offering contains singles "Ditto" and "OMG" and continues to go against the grain. Upon first listen only, the new duo might not seem as strong as their predecessors to the untrained ear, but these tracks are not meant to be listened to only once and their mere rollout proves so.
"Ditto" arrived first, on December 19, 2022, with two music videos labeled side A and side B, like a cassette tape. Directed by Shin Wooseok, the videos, set in a high school setting, feature All of Us Are Dead's Park Jihoo and Twenty-Five Twenty-One's Choi Hyunwook, and hunker down on Y2K aesthetics, interpolating cinematic Sofia Coppola-esque hazy visuals with camcorder-style snippets.