I came down particularly hard on Pristin upon their debut, to the point where I declared the group in need of immediate fixing. And while I don’t take back anything I’ve said, their recent comeback has assured me that this group is heading in the right direction. Several factors come into play that make “We Like” stand out in comparison to their debut track, “Wee Woo,” most of which having to do with the quality of the release but there are also external factors which come into play. Looking into the criticisms I had of their debut release, let’s dive into how Pristin’s comeback with “We Like” has addressed some of my previous concerns.

Previously, my main concern was that there was too much focus on the members who gained fame prior to debuting in Pristin through their participation on project group I.O.I. Nayoung and Kyulkyung were huge names which bolstered the group’s debut roster, and I felt that the MV and overall promotions for “Wee Woo” took advantage of these pre-debut stars a bit too willingly. It’s understandable to promote the group’s most viable assets but when it’s done excessively, it takes away opportunities for the other members to shine. Luckily, this issue is somewhat remedied in “We Like.”

From the start of the MV, we see a clear desire to focus on the group’s members equally in terms of screentime and line distribution. From the 0:34 mark to the 1:22 mark, there is a one-shot sequence in which the camera follows each member for a certain stretch to highlight each member’s singing part in the verse. During this 48-second sequence, we spend almost an equal amount of time with each member before they seamlessly come together for the chorus. It’s a very well-choreographed extended shot which sits well with the frantic pace of the song.

We get the obligatory shots of Nayoung and Kyulkyung throughout the MV but at no point do they seem forced or contrived. They are on screen because the song or the choreography calls for them to be the focus at the moment. In fact, other members are also given similar moments to shine. Xiyeon and Yuha make the most out of their camera time and come off as having the most charm and charisma when given the opportunity.

Another complaint I had of their debut was that Pristin wasn’t being promoted enough as singer-songwriter idols. This is a serious disservice because, for two albums in a row, they have several members involved in the musical and lyrical production yet, being a girl group, that’s not as much of an emphasis in the group’s marketing strategy as the group’s looks and personality. So, of course, this aspect of the group is once again being overlooked. Like their male counterparts at Pledis Entertainment, Seventeen, Pristin is filled with idol songwriters and music producers but, unlike Seventeen, this fact tends to go under the radar because, unlike with male groups, songwriting is apparently not as big of a deal in marketing a girl group.

But for now, let’s give credit where credit is due. Sungyeon, like Seventeen’s Woozi, has her fingerprints all over the group’s musical production process, including contributions to the music and lyrics of “We Like.” And that hook is just so damn catchy! Combined with the on-point (pun intended) point dance (double pun intended), this is the quality of comeback which I was looking for in their debut. When the final product comes together so well, it’s easy to overlook the little things like how they’re never going to acknowledge that Kyulkyung’s stage name should really be Pinky, or how Pristin is never going to be as awesome as their defunct labelmates After School. But I’m willing to look pass those minor issues because we can all rejoice now in the fact that Pristin is good in their own way and there is much to like about “We Like.”

Let’s not fail to mention that the MV is clearly inspired by the indie horror video game franchise Five Nights at Freddy’s. Although the MV does not attempt to adapt the concept very faithfully, the story of a nighttime security guard getting spooked by life-sized stuffed animals that come to life is clearly a reference to the cult franchise. Unlike the source material, the tone of the MV is very playful as it’s clear that it’s Pristin in those cute stuffed animal costumes and they’re just a group of trespassing teens who are out to have some fun.

Lastly, my final complaint from before was that Pristin seemed too similar to other groups. Though this concern has been largely rectified by the reasons listed above, let’s bury the hatchet on it once and for all. Since Pristin consists of two former I.O.I members, it’s not a stretch to compare them to other groups with multiple former I.O.I members on their roster. Despite seeming somewhat similar to Gugudan and the recently debuted Weki Meki at first glance, Pristin has clearly distinguished themselves with their ability to self-produce and bring about greater awareness and support for more diverse body types.

Despite having members who clearly sport the ideal body type, Pristin members represent a wider range of body types than most other rookie girl groups. It’s quite a shame that a certain media outlet decided to fat-shame the group’s youngest member Kyla, who’s only 15 years old, for having a fuller body type than most other idols. However, it’s also quite inspiring to see the overwhelming support which she’s received in return. Both domestic and international fans have shelled out a ton of support to counter the hate she’s been receiving because of her weight. Spearheaded by the tweets of undoubtedly her number one fan, her brother, the issue has brought to light the very cruel and inhumane conditions in which idols, particularly female idols, must operate under. Just because her ribcage isn’t bursting out of her torso, it doesn’t mean she should be ashamed of her weight. In fact, it’s a shame that there are those who can’t accept idols who diverge from the ideal body type, and it’s doubly shameful that there are those who resort to bullying tactics to reinforce body standards which are unhealthy and unnatural for most people.

May Pristin continue thriving musically and gain recognition as a group of songwriting and self-producing idols. May the group continue promoting the brilliance of all its members and not just that of a few. And, most of all, may their members continue representing a variety of body types — including fuller body types — in which I like, you like, and we like as not only acceptable, but also highly desirable.

(YouTubeNate, Twitter, SBS, Koreaboo, Naver, Images via Pledis Entertainment)