Cube Entertainment’s newest girl group, the six-membered (G)I-DLE, had their highly anticipated debut on 2 May, 2018, with the pared-down tropical single LATATA. Their girl-crush image has attracted a ton of fans, as has the group’s leader: former Produce 101 and Unpretty Rapstar contestant Jeon Soyeon.
Not only has (G)I-DLE’s stage presence been noted, the girls’ first single has also landed a coveted spot on Melon’s top 50, an incredible feat for rookies.
It’s hard to believe I AM is a debut album. The mini features 6 tracks, including lead single LATATA, with a well-attuned genre focus. It fuses the sounds of summer (that tropic house backbeat that is, by now, very familiar to KPOP), a strong rap focal point, and a modern reinterpretation of disco.
The strongest song on the album is Different ($$$) a song which begins on Soyeon’s explosive rap verse, and breaks into a whimsical pre-chorus sung by Chinese member Yuqi. But the chorus of the song is yet another contrast to the previous two components. It’s perhaps too much of a contrast. As there isn’t a central component that joins them together, it sounds disjointed from the rest of the song.
However, disjointedness is something that (G)I-DLE plays with quite a bit. LATATA’s pre-chorus, for instance, is anchored on Thai member Minnie’s almost discordant voice. But in this case it adds interesting texture to the song and, certainly for me, it becomes the most striking element of an otherwise unexceptional track.
The modern disco element comes through in I Want to Know and ts repetitive use of the lyrics ‘What’s in your house?’ It’s chill and soothing, but there’s an electric backbeat and dream-like vocal performance that’s incredibly addicting.
For me, Maze could have easily been the lead track. It’s warm and summery, and definitely one of my favourite tracks from this mini album. It has a melodic pre-chorus that builds in a similar way to the hooks in Sunmi’s Gashina and BTS’ DNA. In contrast, Don’t Text Me and the ending ballad Listen to Me are the weakest songs on the album.
Don’t Text Me doesn’t have the signature punch of excitement that the rest of the album carries. Whereas, Listen to Me is such a drastic change from the tone and style of the album that it feels completely out of place.
Overall, (G)I-DLE debuted with a strong, kickass album, making them strong contenders in the top debuting groups of 2018. They clearly mark their style in a distinctive way. I AM as their debut mini-album is a compact and well-attuned introduction to (G)I-DLE’s style and musicality.