The Guardian


Laura Snapes

Killer hooks and lyrical intrigue have made this young girl band one of the hottest names in K-pop

When K-pop newcomers NewJeans released their superb 2022 single Cookie – an effortless blend of Jersey club and Ariana Grande-cool R&B – fans immediately highlighted the innuendo in the girl band’s lyrics. “Looking at my cookie/ Do you ever smell it different/ What if a bite isn’t enough?” they sing in Korean. The five-piece’s PR agency released an unintentionally comic statement saying it had consulted “numerous doctors in English literature, interpreters and native speakers” who confirmed that “cookie is not widely used sexual slang”. So that’s that!

The vehement denial comes in part because NewJeans are young, their ages ranging from 14 to 18. Although Hanni, Haerin, Minji, Danielle Marsh and Hyein were formed by an industry stalwart of K-pop girl groups, unusually they landed music-first, without the usual months of teasing. What’s more, they eschew having a leader so they can share equal prominence – and they co-write their songs.

In less than a year they’ve become a chart-topping, award-winning, record-breaking behemoth. Earlier this month they swept the Korean music awards, winning best K-pop album and song (for their selftitled debut EP and single Attention respectively). The important part is that NewJeans’ songs deserve the hype: they are sleek and lethally hooky, yet playful and teeming with retro synths and experimental flourishes (thanks to underground producers Jinsu Park and 250). Worth a bite, for sure.

Critics Music