There was much anticipation at the announcement of the debut of a new girl group from JYP Entertainment. It’s been three years since Itzy’s debut and Twice are already on their seventh year. It’s just about right that we see how the said entertainment company can compete with the likes of SM’s Aespa or Starship’s Ive.

Leading to the group’s debut, JYP gambled with the release of a “blind package”. Think about it—you have no information about this group yet you need to purchase this rare collectible for a limited time only. The album, whatever it will be at that point, will only be produced nearing the group’s debut date. It’s an ambitious yet risky concept, but within ten days, pre-orders reached more than 60,000.

Fast forward to February 2022, the blind package is the single album of Nmixx with the title track, “O.O”. True to their name, the song and music video is a pick and mix of almost every imaginable element, leaving viewers confused and disappointed.  

With the introduction of Nmixx, it seems that the group is JYP’s answer to SM’s Kwangya multiverse or Loona’s evolving lore. The group marks the beginning of something new as seen in their prologue film entitled “New Frontier: Declaration”, and the creation of an exclusive division called Squ4d. From an entertainment company whose roots are funk and retro, it will be interesting to see how JYP will interpret this concept of newness.

According to the group’s official website, “O.O” follows a new genre called mixx pop that fuses two or more genres into one. It could be any existing musical genre, and in this case, “O.O” mixes together rock and baile funk, also known as funk carioca or favela funk that originated from Brazil. Mixing genres into one song isn’t something new in K-pop as popularized by SNSD (Girls’ Generation)’s “I Got A Boy” and more recently Aespa’s “Next Level”, but it is definitely new for a JYP act. It’s a tricky attempt, especially for a debut song, and if done poorly, the song will be a mess.

Unfortunately in “O.O”, this lack of cohesiveness is mirrored in the music video. The three-part act opens with the girls in the middle of nowhere with a pirate ship that seemed to have crashed in the ground. Moving to the second verse up to the pre-chorus (including peculiar product placement), the girls seem to have landed into a dystopian world. They try to find a way out but are surrounded by the ominous appearance of black dominoes.

As they enter this new world, they are greeted with donuts and floating sea creatures. The girls are now dressed in puffy dresses and anything they touch blooms into flowers. Their expressions are brighter and we see them dancing on cotton candy skies. All good things come to an end and we see the girls dancing outside the donut shop, but this time wearing embellished black blazers at night.

Rearranging the sequence of events, the last part is actually the first act. There are fast close-up shots of the eyes as if they have awakened and neon signs suddenly light up in the presence of Lily. They set off on a journey aboard a pirate ship, run into some challenges (dominoes), and discover that the donut shop is actually their portal to their new world. (Think Chronicles of Narnia.) Linking the group’s narrative with the music video, “O.O” is Nmixx’s realization into becoming something bigger than themselves.

We’ve already got a glimpse of the black dominoes that are in the way of Nmixx’s journey in the prologue film and debut trailer. In lieu of a box, the dominoes represent challenges that the group has to overcome as they break through the music scene. They could also be black mirrors, as hinted in Haewon’s scene in the debut trailer. Everyone—media and the critical public—are watching out for these girls to debut. So as Kyujin breaks through some of the dominoes, she and the rest of Nmixx are not just entering a new world, more so they are breaking ground as the powerful new kids on the block.

Now, the question is: Has Nmixx achieved this objective? Sadly, despite the amazing CGI and the gorgeous styling, we are left wondering who Nmixx really is. There were hardly any glamor shots and moments to pause and absorb whose voice is whose. Seems that JYP is setting them up as a performance group with wide angles and group shots. It’s a pity that the group actually has some wonderful vocals.   

What’s even worse is that the music video is under fire for alleged plagiarism of Ateez’s Pirate King concept and the group’s “Illusion” MV. According to Ateez’s fans, the pirate theme has set sail from the group’s inception in 2018 until the culmination of their five-part Treasure album series in 2020. It is common for K-pop music videos to share similarities with one another, but Ateez’s fans insist that the company also copied the prologue film with one of Ateez’s b-side tracks.

Could it be that since it’s a girl group from JYP everybody is just expecting them to raise the bar? Maybe and I wouldn’t blame them. One could only hope that JYP would pause and re-evaluate Nmixx’s immense potential and steer them in the right direction.

(YouTube [1][2]. NMIXX official website. Masterclass. Naver.)