This week, the 10 girls of Cherry Bullet join the growing (and saturated) portfolio of girl groups of K-pop, and unlike some new groups, they don’t aim to differentiate themselves in sound, concept, or accessory. These girls don’t look to shatter the conventional picture of the mainstream, but rather showcase the aspects of K-pop we all know to be quintessential: vibrancy, joy, and bubbly imagery.

Although some controversy initially permeated the debut regarding similarities in imagery to NCT 127’s Cherry Bomb, Cherry Bullet manages to successfully make their own thing with “Q&A.” As a debut single, the song is incredibly reminiscent of the always-mentioned golden era of K-pop in which the elements of pop take full control; think Girls Generation’s initial style remade in 2019. Driving-synths create a soundscape familiar to anyone who has listened to K-pop for a few seconds.

In terms of themes, the MV deviates from the sound slightly, towards an ultra-modern depiction of our future in which retro imagery commands all the visuals of technology. Driving the narrative are scenes of the girls playing in the high-tech utopia. Most of the video is just this: girls having a good time playing around. Cutting through the chorus are dance breaks placed on a giant dance floor — if that doesn’t scream K-pop, what does? Combine these moments with the shades of teal and orange that contrast throughout the video and we are in for a familiar watch.

Now, regardless of how these dance breaks, stylization, and core sound are akin to other songs, there are some nice, new elements that work in Cherry Bullet’s favor. It’s no secret that the transition from song sections have never been subtle in this genre, yet the particular emphasis that’s placed on change works very well here. Along the unique, underlying funky rhythms are essential to the momentum of the song. From the elevated energy that marks the (awesome) pre-chorus with the absence of these rhythms, to the sound cliff that exists between the chorus and the verses, and the bridge that breaks away from the song briefly.

To tie everything together then, are the dance and lyrics. The first being very friendly towards dance enthusiasts while being filled with aegyo, and the second taking the usual pop approach — sound over meaning. And perhaps, that’s what I like the most about this song; there’s no deep, introspective message. Simply, “Q&A” is enjoyable music that conveys positivity. I find — in spite of many groups going for this sound — few are able to move beyond annoyance in the form of high-pitched screams. Maybe it’s the subtly-refined elements that make it all work it together

The confession of love no one knows about
It’s okay even if only you and I know (the both of us)
Another golden day

In the midst of too many tries, nowadays, debuts are very hit-or-miss. New groups are increasingly trying to have something that makes them different and appeal to the masses all the same. What Cherry Bullet has done, however, might be the perfect midpoint many look for. A sound familiar and yet, not sterile or worn. The group has accomplished it with their first single. But, as everyone knows, that’s not quite enough. To be successful in this scene and mainstream means having more than just good ideas and being a one time wonder. I’m curious as to whether they’ll be able to keep it up or not; it’s easy to deviate, whether towards the trite or towards the stale.

(YouTube, Genius)