Hash Tag made their debut on Tuesday. Their creator Kan Miyoun was a member of the first generation idol group Baby V.O.X. Kan told reporters at Hash Tag’s first showcase that she was involved in every aspect of the group from visuals to styling. Her involvement has generated some interest in how a performance veteran of the industry would add to the conception of a girl group. In the case of Hash Tag, their debut doesn’t really seem that different to the status quo.
The intention of using Hash Tag as their name is to “create a big movement, similar to adding hashtags on social media,” leader Dajung said. A problem may arise when trying to find the group on search engines like Google that read the word as the symbol and generate unrelated results. Time will tell whether the deluge of tangential internet noise that is generated with their name will be overcome by their brand strength.
The lead track from Hash Tag’s five-track mini-album, The Girl Next Door, is titled “ㅇㅇ” or “Hue”. “Hue” pitched to be a future bass dance track with hip-hop elements. “Hue” easily meets the genre demands of a kawaii future bass track with dizzying changes to the instrumentation and sudden melodic twists abounding. Parts of the song are catchy and all of it is delivered with admirable energetic verve. It’s a mixed bag because it hits many positive points for a low-risk debut: it’s cute, lively, and there’s a lot going on. The dynamism of the song runs the risk of coming across as chaotic and leave listeners without a definitive hook to remember.
Lyrically, the song urges the listener to pay attention, focus, and love the protagonist.
Hold on, will you listen to me?
You’re falling asleep, hey look at me
I have something to tell you
Focus, focus, here I go
This sentiment is important in a debut where you need to set yourself apart from the competition of other teams as well as established groups. The lyrics are as erratic as the instrumentation with the protagonist oscillating between imploring the listener for love, their own anxieties, and self-assurances. It`s an overwhelming mix of messages without a coherent conceptual point.
This lack of a unifying element is also present in the visuals of the MV. Intricate choreography sequences are interlaced with images of the girls interacting with cellphones, emojis, and strangely, books. The candy colours and styling choices of the members fit in well with the cute concept, but the props are somewhat inconsistent. Dajung is seen somewhat robotically operating a hand pump to blow up balloons that appear periodically. Sua is shown typing on an old-fashioned typewriter, and there are insert shots of tube socked feet, lockers, and members using megaphones. The imagery has an overall mood of bright energy, but the energy doesn’t seem to have a definitive direction.
A positive dynamic force in the MV is the use of the camera. The quick cuts during the choreography add energy to the dance sequences and are skillfully executed. A variety of different shots are used to show the members off from all angles, and each girl has enough solo screen time to make an impression. The whirling camera highlights the intricate hand movements and facial expressions in the choreography. The minimal sets in the fluorescent, ’80s-style dance sequences would have had more impact if they were longer than a few seconds, but the cuts only give a glimpse of the sleek, retro-futuristic vibe.
The emojis and cellphone use would have been effective enough if they had fully committed to a technologically driven visuals. The scenes of Aeji and Sua shopping for emojis is clean and visually evocative. However, the seemingly random addition of sports iconography with board games and low-tech entertainment is confusing. There is enough techy imagery to cleverly refer to the group’s online connection without becoming too abstract and robotic.
Overall, the song and MV have all the trappings of a solid debut; it’s bright, energetic, and cute. It should be a guaranteed home-run, but the scattered imagery and middle-of-the-road song barely have enough focus to slide past home plate. Hashtag shows some promise by executing the source material well, but they haven’t been given enough to distinguish themselves.