Itzy, JYP Entertainment’s new girl group, have just made their bold entry to the industry with the energetic “Dalla Dalla.” Twice’s sister group has been long awaited, and most of its members were already known by the public due to their participations in survival shows. ChaeryeongIZ*ONE’s Chaeyeon sister — participated on JYP’s Sixteen, Ryujin placed first on YG’s MIXNINE, and Yeji was dubbed the company’s “secret weapon” during her presentations on SBS’s The Fan. Ryujin and Yuna also had a part in BTS’ “Love Yourself” highlight reel, pairing with J-Hope, Jimin and Jungkook.

As many speculated, Itzy opposes Twice’s peppy brand by flaunting a bratty, girl crush-inspired attitude. The word 달라 means “different” in Korean, and the song makes all possible efforts to prove itself as extraordinary.

The opening scene for the MV features the members strolling fancy hand luggage and going up an elevator. Inside, they promptly start to change their gray outfits to sequined, flashy pieces. This scene works as a metaphor to their journey from trainees to idols, and the constant scrutiny to which they are submitted, being filmed and followed everywhere. Going upwards is a literal elevation of their positions, and the moment where they break the security camera denies the audience access to that transformative process, as well as flashing their nonconforming demeanor.

When the elevator doors open again, the full-fledged Itzy is ready to shine. With a stomping electro beat, Ryujin and Yeji deliver daring lines on not caring about what other people think. The chorus, divided between Yeji and Lia, is an assertive boast about their distinctiveness:

Just pretty but not attractive at all

I’m different from the kids

I’m different

Don’t measure me by your standards alone

I love being myself, I’m nobody else

I’m different

Indeed, predictable is not a word in “Dalla Dalla’”s dictionary. The song’s twists and turns blend together badass English verses, cheerful hooks, rap breaks, a soulful bridge and a chanted pick-me-up section all in one. However, that’s not a unique concept, since K-pop has seen similar startling structures in Girls’ Generation “I Got a Boy,” 2NE1’s “Come Back Home,” Matilda’s “You Bad! Don’t Make Me Cry,” and many others, with varying degrees of general public acceptance.

As for the lyrics’ message, BTS’ commercially successful self-love series seem to have set a new trend among their peers. CLC’s “No,” released last week, rejects stereotypes and proclaims “I love me, I like it” in the chorus. Now, Itzy takes a similar route and provides a dose of self-positivity to the audience, saying it’s okay to love your own uniqueness. While it’s important to notice that the members were not involved in the creative process of the song, are all conforming to the beauty standards of the industry, and probably don’t have much agency in any aspect of their work, this message might still be a better alternative than the classic “looking for a prince in order to be happy.”

Looking onto the MV, it stands as a perfect companion to the song’s clashing construction. Aside from the elevator metaphor, there isn’t a clear narrative or sequence in the scenes, and it works more as a platform for Itzy to showcase their versatility and charms. Some sets display fancy airport security checks and baggage reclaims, with clear whites and bright tones creating a luxurious atmosphere. In contrast, hypercolored locations, a car parking lot and a dimly-lit tunnel are some of the backgrounds for the lively choreography.

The addition of hue-changing, glitches, sketches and other optical effects contribute to a psychedelic vibe, and the overall mix of sounds and visuals in “Dalla Dalla” wind up as a chaotic explosion. That’s why Itzy’s debut might not be for all tastes, as there is a tricky balance between astonishing and overwhelming the audience.

Even though it’s a frenetic release, reaching out for everything at the same time, the final product is not that jarring when we take into account K-pop’s past experimentalism. Added to the gigantic expectations coming from an acclaimed company, living up to the hype was an almost impossible mission that the group tackled boldly.

The quintet’s charisma and prowess is evident, and undoubtedly will progress in their future endeavours. Even though they claim not wanting to mature, time will likely do them well. At last, while not original per se, “Dalla Dalla” accomplishes its motto: it’s certainly different.

(Naver, Youtube. Lyrics via Color Coded Lyrics. Images via JYP Entertainment.)