In the midst of serious and moody late fall comebacks, Momoland returned earlier this week with the bright and bouncy “Ready or Not”. The title track for their third single album “Ready or Not” combines elements of signature Momoland with clear signs that they are moving forward in a new direction.

The song, which credits Psy as a contributing lyricist, is a relatively straightforward track in which Momoland declares that they are ready to take center stage and will do so whether or not their audience is prepared. It preserves well-known Momoland characteristics such as a catchy chorus and bright colours. Though the MV for “Ready or Not” is also fairly simple, it forgoes a fun narrative and offbeat concept in an attempt to step away from their quirkier image.

From the now-iconic “Bboom Bboom” to their other releases since, Momoland’s songs have featured a catchy, danceable chorus that “Ready or Not” does not stray far from. Bright and brassy, the hook is exactly what Momoland has come to be known for as their sound toes the line between formulaic and predictable and being their signature. Paired with a hip-swaying dance that would be easily copied, Momoland does veer on exploiting the formula for a viral hit that consists of an earworm chorus and simple choreography.

Bright colours are also another mainstay in Momoland releases that “Now or Never” features, though this time with a twist. Momoland ditches the variety for a distinct pink scheme that Sharpay Evans would die for, as shades of pink dominate almost every scene in the MV.

For example, Nancy lounges on a pink couch in a room filled with props like flamingoes and even a completely pink potted plant. The saturated but hazy filter along with the one-colour pink scheme is a part of Momoland’s evolution to a more stylish and mature concept. The release could have easily been a summertime release instead of a mid-November comeback, but the pink and cheerful MV is on-brand for the Momoland that we have come to know.

However, one set sticks out severely: JooE’s bright yellow kitchen. While all the other individual and group shots are pink-influenced, JooE’s solo set abandons all sense of consistency as it features all yellow everywhere. From bananas to a yellow guitar, the set does its job in standing out. An obvious attempt to highlight JooE over other members, it is an indication that uneven line distribution and screen-time continue to plague the group.

The song and colours are reminiscent of Momoland’s previous releases, but “Ready or Not” is a relatively simple MV that firmly establishes the end of Momoland’s unconventional concepts. The release focuses less on an amusing narrative and guns for a basic and stylish MV trying to establish a more mature and sexy impression. A blatant attempt at this are the slow-motion shots of Hyebin’s thighs and midriff as she roller-skates around in shorts and a crop-top.

Despite the lack of an obvious narrative, the MV stays true to its lyrics as it hints at how Momoland is ready to take center stage. Ahin gets ready by taking not a bubble bath but a balloon bath, as her stage outfit and heels await her next to the tub. Guitars and amps also function as references to the stage, and are present in many of the individual and group scenes. JooE and Hyebin even strut through a dressing room and look at themselves in the mirror as one final check. As the song gears up towards its climax, we look up at Jane standing triumphantly on top of a shopping card holding a red guitar. She is confident and more than ready to get going and stand out, but seems to challenge if the audience is up for it.

The MV culminates in all of the members gathering to have some wholesome fun. Nayun pours, and spills, pink drinks, they blow bubbles, play with balloons, take selfies, and overall enjoy each other’s company. The shift to their party is also reflected in choreography scenes, as shots quickly shift between them dancing in a warehouse and in a stage framed by curtains. Momoland is having the time of their lives whether or not the audience is ready to keep up with them.

“Ready or Not” clearly signals that Momoland is more than ready to shift gears and shed their cuter image. Four years after their debut and almost three years since “Bboom Bboom” was released, perhaps this will be the song that marks the beginning of a newer and mature Momoland era.

(YouTube. Images via MLD Entertainment)