K-Poppin’ Off: Episode 8 – Weeekly!

We’re going on a musical journey. In this series, I’ll be exploring the world of K-pop, reviewing artists, bands, and albums as we go! Along the way, I’ll offer my unfiltered opinions – so if I criticize your favorite song, I apologize in advance. Let’s start “K-Poppin’ Off!”

 

It’s not a typo. It’s a trilogy.

The energetic and colorful girls from Play M Entertainment, Weeekly, recently dropped the third section of their three-part series “WE.”

Consisting of mini-albums called [We are], [We can], and [We play], the latter of which just came out on March 17th, Weeekly has picked up new fans worldwide with each release, and this weekend, I gave their music a try!

Consisting of Soojin, Jiyoon, Monday, Soeun, Jaehee, Jihan, and Zoa, the girls are relative newcomers, with a few of them starting their entertainment careers on TV in 2018. All the members except Jihan and Zoa debuted in a pair of short-lived girl groups called FAVE GIRLS and PlayM Girls, but in May 2020, after the addition of the final two vocalists, Weeekly was launched!

Their first two mini-albums did pretty well on the Gaon Charts, scoring Top 20 entries. But it’s their third offering, [We play], that I planned to spend my time exploring.

That journey began with “Yummy!” Unlike the Justin Bieber travesty of the same name, this one began with a bouncy bassline and an adorable vocal performance. The girls hit high notes without getting squeaky, and I was struck by just how young they sounded – as it turns out, the oldest one in the group is Soojin, at 19. This song sauntered on, almost completely devoid of any tension. Everything was placed exactly where it belonged.

“Lucky” followed that up with a combination of Korean and English lyrics, set atop a subtle acoustic guitar. Once again, it captured a light, airy mood, but the percussion was far too busy for such a cheery tune. Behind the frantic heart-attack drums, I heard some vague island sounds and loose EDM influence – but nothing too significant to say it was a Caribbean or dance-inspired track.

“After School” was the lead single off this EP, up third in the tracklist. It was exactly what I was hoping the first two songs would be: steady, positive, and impossible to ignore during the chorus. I enjoyed how the girls’ voices were layered throughout, and how the instrumental carried the song forward without ever taking control. In keeping with the scholastic theme, I would give this song an A.

Noticeably absent so far: the thick, soupy auto-tune that K-pop artists frequently use. These girls sounded real.

With massive drums and major-key group vocals, “Uni” continued the happiness-at-all-costs approach to this EP. Here, I heard the strongest hook in the record, and the most well mixed variation of sounds. After looking up the lyrics, I’m still not sure what it means to “drive a jump truck,” but it sounded like a really good time. The lighthearted “beep-beep” at the end made me chuckle!

“Butterfly” struck a remarkable more serious tone, compared to the rest of the music contained within [We play]. I still heard video game-esque transitions and a breathy piano, but this song felt like it really had something more to say. A few spicy chord choices kept things interesting, and as “Butterfly” progressed, it grew more mature with each note. It sounded like the end-credit song for a Hallmark movie, but far less obnoxious.

Just like that, a mere 16 minutes later, [We play] was over.

This mini-album is exactly what I thought K-pop sounded like before I was into K-pop. Weeekly’s music is caffeinated, carbonated, and contains WAY more sugar than your recommended daily value. In some ways, I felt like I was too old for it – kind of like the sonic equivalent of watching My Little Pony. But just like MLP, all the bright color and major tonality has its place. “After School” in particular was delightful, and definitely qualified to be a future “guilty pleasure” listening experience for me.

As people, it’s hard not to love Weeekly. After doing some research, I couldn’t find anything that made the girls any less cute: Jaehee likes to sleep with stuffed animals, Soojin (the band leader) is nicknamed “soft puppy,” and Jihan has been known to decorate her diary with lots of stickers. All in all, if any of them need help with their homework, I’d be more than happy to lend a hand.

Jokes aside, the 7-piece has plenty of potential. I always like to take a second in these reviews to recommend strategies for each group to achieve more mainstream pop radio success in America, and in this case, I’d say Weeekly is halfway there. Fellow girlgroup Blackpink had success last year by collaborating with Selena Gomez on a song that sounded pretty similar to “After School,” so the formula is there!

Given the group’s vibrant visual presence, I would have them drop a song in time to be a springtime hit – preferably with a high-profile Western female artist on as a collaborator. After all, Weeekly hasn’t been around for very long, and every newcomer likes to make new friends.

My final scores for Weeekly look like this:

Persona: 10/10

Vocals: 8/10

Production quality: 7/10

Musical variety: 6.5/10

Replay value: 8/10

The final grade for Weeekly: 7.9/10. Both sugary and sweet, this band of talented teens has a lot in store for them. But just like sugar itself, their sound needs just a little more refinement before it’s ready to sprinkle all over the charts. I hope to hear more from Weeekly soon, because if there’s one thing the world needs, it’s a smile – and these girls can definitely provide more than a few cheeky grins!

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