K-Pop’s newest girl crushes are back! IT’z ME, the first full album from ITZY released on March 9, features seven new tracks from the girl group including their title track “WANNABE.”
A MORE ORGANIC ITZY
“WANNABE” is much in the same vein as previous title tracks “DALLA DALLA” and “ICY.” It’s a self-empowerment anthem in which the girls sing about loving themselves for who they are. It’s unsurprisingly catchy—as most JYP title tracks tend to be—with a chorus that will inevitably be in your head for days. Where the song differs from the group’s previously released singles, however, is its instrumentation. The song opens with a haunting music box-like sound effect before exploding into Ryujin’s spunky first verse. By the time Yuna comes in with the pre-chorus, there are added acoustic guitar effects (something we don’t often see in JYP releases, let alone from ITZY). The chorus takes the song back into familiar ITZY territory but with the added bonus of subtle electric guitar effects. They’re not obvious, especially if you’re listening without earphones, but for such an EDM-heavy discography, the unexpected inclusion of real instruments is incredibly refreshing.
It’s ITZY, so the video for “WANNABE” was bound to be entertaining. The video is more cinematic than their others, with more focus on a storyline compared to the vlog-esque “ICY.” In the video, the girls are shown holding themselves back in different oppressive environments: Lia is a well-mannered heiress, Yeji is self-conscious at a club, Chaeryeong is an overworked student, Yuna is an inhibited model, and Ryujin just really wants to change her image. By the end, however, each member has broken free from the expectations set for her.
Maybe it’s because the song is a bit grittier than the group’s usual upbeat girl power titles, but main rapper Ryujin particularly shines in this concept. Her specific brand of attitude has always suited the unapologetic girl crush image startling well, but it took ITZY releasing “WANNABE” to really capitalize on it.
Check out the video below!
THE REST OF THE ALBUM
Following “WANNABE” is “TING TING TING,” a song co-produced by Oliver Heldens. It’s your typical dance track but the addition of 2000’s pop elements and a funky slap bass give the song that needed kick. Next on the album is “THAT’S A NO NO,” a song with a jungle-like beat that may not necessarily be the easiest on the ea
rs. Though they tend to get buried by the heavy EDM, the vocals in “THAT’S A NO NO” are top-notch, especially from Yeji and Lia.
“NOBODY LIKE YOU” brings back the guitars. With an 80’s arena rock style to it, the song is similar to “WANT IT?” though not quite as good. Truthfully, this sound is not quite the best fit for ITZY, but it is nice to have some variety in the group’s discography. “YOU MAKE ME,” on the other hand, is the perfect fit for the girl group. The song takes ITZY’s typical EDM dance elements and somehow makes them better. The “You make me…speechless” line before the instrumental chorus is genius and personally made the song an instant addition to my K-Pop playlist.
“I DON’T WANNA DANCE” is the B-side you’d expect to “WANNABE,” with similar musical elements including the music box effects. It’s a good enough song, albeit a bit forgettable, but it sits well on the album as a whole. The album rather abruptly concludes with “24HRS,” a tra
ck with a lot of back-and-forth from its bass-heavy chorus to its goody-goody pizzicato pre-chorus. With all the self name-dropping, “24HRS” sounds like something the Spice Girls would release if they were a 2020 Korean girl group. But, with a group as bold as ITZY, there could have been no better track to end the album.