Even though it was just a prerelease, NewJeans set expectations high with the MV for “Ditto.” The MV had a seemingly simple concept that turned out to be a metaphor for the parasocial relationships between idols and fans. Now with their official release, the MV for “OMG” expands upon that metaphor with NewJeans reflecting upon themselves as idols. Although it has been a short time since NewJeans debuted, they have risen quickly to stardom with their airy and youthful pop music. With this latest album, Hybe and NewJeans have decided to reach beyond the girl crush theme and twist it around. “OMG” is another creative take on the relationship between idols and fans which is set against an otherwise generic pop song about a school crush.
Hanni’s persona in the MV sets up the metaphor itself with her monologue. She questions her identity, references Heesoo from “Ditto,” and believes herself to be a product used to serve others. This is a critique of how K-pop idols are treated like a product to be consumed and are therefore dehumanized. Hanni’s switch to Siri’s robotic voice shows that she had completely lost her humanity.
All the other members have personas that in some way question their identity as well. Minji, despite being a patient, believes herself to be a doctor. Hyein is depicted as a princess in a fairytale world needing to be rescued. Haerin is literally a cat. Lastly, Danielle is the only one who believes she is a member of NewJeans, which then puts into question the reality within the MV. Altogether, the delusions reflect a loss of identity when trying to play an entertainer. Many times, idols’ identities are simplified as the cute one (Haerin) or the pretty one (Hyein) of the group. Perhaps they are in the mental institute because they, even Danielle, have lost their other personality traits to become simplified versions of themselves.
The settings and costumes switch back and forth, creating confusion for the viewers as to what is reality. The members are wearing medical gowns while in the mental asylum. However, they switch to bubbly outfits with bunny ears and backpacks that truly showcase their youthful appearance as young idols. The switch between the monotone medical outfits and cute K-pop attire is intentionally jarring. To add to this tone, the backgrounds also switch as they are dancing from a dark and blue-tinted mental institute to a bright party room. Yet, they are also shown in the institute wearing their K-pop outfits with the lights on, which suggests they are in a different mental state than depicted. This constant back and forth creates uncertainty regarding reality and their hallucinations.
That uncertainty is a common trope throughout the MV. Danielle, for example, breaks the fourth wall and speaks to the production crew of the MV. A montage of NewJeans content is played but abruptly stops, and the members are back in the mental asylum. Lastly, a man is seen picking up the notebook full of drawings depicting the different delusions. When he looks outside the window, the supposed hallucinations come to life outside. This goes to show that even to the outside world, the members are the simplified characters that they portray themselves to be.
The concept of the MV is tied together perfectly by circling back to their fanbase. A girl, whose face is not shown, is typing out a message about how they wished NewJeans just focused on their aesthetics and music instead of having these types of concepts for their MVs. Again, this connects back to Minji’s persona about feeling like a product to be consumed rather than a musician. While NewJeans may get backlash for their introspective concepts, the group and their agency send a message that the members want to be more than just your girl crush.
With such a lofty concept, it is sometimes hard to focus on the music which is really what this is all about. NewJeans continues with their 90s-inspired signature pop sound, as well as their clean and wispy vocals. There is nothing terribly creative about “OMG” if you look at it lyrically. The voice of the song speaks about obsessing over a crush. Just because the lyrics are generic, though, the song itself is elevated with the members’ smooth vocals. They are great when harmonizing together to create a velvety sound which is perfect for their pop songs. While their music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is hard to deny their talent.
NewJeans’ concept for their second mini album is reflective of their short experience as new idols. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that these are young girls who have emotions, personalities, and their own identities. As their rise to stardom, NewJeans is setting their boundaries early for their fanbase. If you’d rather listen to their music, you might miss out on the important messages that they are trying to send out with the concept of their MVs. Overall, it is great to see them looking beyond typical concepts and striving to be more in the K-pop industry. Whether or not that will help push them deeper into K-pop stardom or hinder them is still left to be seen.
(Youtube. Images via Hybe Entertainment.)