Being the big Produce 101 Season 1 and I.O.I fan I am, I’ve continued looking forward to the debuts following the end of the show. With the same level of anticipation I had for Chungha, Yoo Yeonjung, and Kim Sejeong’s post-I.O.I debuts, I wondered what kind of group Choi Yoojung would debut in. However, when Fantagio announced the group to be named Weki Meki, I have to admit that I didn’t like the sound of it. Nevertheless, when “I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend” dropped, I still checked things out with the expectation that the song would be good.
First Impressions Don’t Last
The moment “I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend” finished playing, I thought everything about it was a mess. The track appeared disoriented and all over the place. I felt the song was structured too differently from that of the standard girl group formula, and the chorus lines were quite scattered when things should have been simple and catchy.
Still, I was overly curious about how the group would perform such a unique track throughout promotions, so I checked out their debut stage on MCOUNTDOWN a few days later. After watching the performance, I was impressed by both the stage presence of all eight members and their synchronization despite the difficult choreography. It was during this time that my curiosity towards the group grew, and I started giving their title track numerous replays.
Admittedly, I was starting to love what I had hated upon first listen. While keeping this track on loop, I started to analyze the elements of the arrangement, finally realizing that this track is one of those songs formulated to grow on listeners rather than capture them from the very first listen. I discovered how quirky and fun the synth during the verses sounded, and I particularly loved the bounce it created when Yoojung’s rap was fused in. When the pitch shifted a few steps during the chorus, I was caught off guard, especially upon first listen. However, I realized it was the perfect transition to the second verse where everything breaks down for a more vocal-driven part. This is my personal favorite part of the song, simply because it’s a lot more melodic than a majority of the verses, which helps in keeping the track from sounding too monotonous. Carrying a unique structure, you could compare it to Girls’ Generation’s “I GOT A BOY,” which contains its fair share of wild segment changes. “I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend” starts off with a solid hip-hop sound before the chorus comes in and draws on some tropical house influences.
The overall visual for the group’s debut is a hybrid of the usual girl group colorful concept and street fashion, which works perfectly for the concept of the track. The girls’ fashion was singled out by a lot of people for looking too messy, but their ensembles are perfect to rock the choreography with. Like the song and visual elements, the music video is a mixed bag of street shots and color-infused indoor studio frames. My favorite scenes include the pitch black set, where the red-colored clothes of the girls go well with the dark background.
Given how odd it might have sounded to a lot of people at first, the track was met with mixed reviews in Korea. And while I did experience similar thoughts upon first listen, I’m starting to think that “I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend” is still, indeed, the best choice for a title track. This is mostly because I think some of the tracks from the EP WEME sound quite safe and, during a few extreme cases, almost generic.
“Stay with Me” and “Neverland” are just two tracks off the album that draw from the tropical house genre style. Both are quite different in their level of influence and execution, with “Stay With Me” being the more upbeat track that contains a more standard tropical house arrangement, and “Neverland” leaning towards the mid-tempo route with minimal references to the genre. I personally prefer the Glory Face & Jake K-produced “Neverland,” as it’s a lot more cohesive and well-written. I thought “Stay with Me” was a nice listen, but its weakness is definitely how familiar it sounds. Maybe it’s because it is committed to its genre, but there’s nothing new that caught my attention.
The great surprise is the sole ballad of the album, “My World.” I’m calling it the best b-side of the album because it never sounds boring at all, which can easily be the perception on ballads for some listeners. The breathy atmosphere of the track works wonders, and the melodies are interestingly written. The notes the girls sing do not go where you think they would, which makes the whole listening experience even more fun.
The Right Cards
What I love about the group’s live performances, besides the amazing choreography, is that each member is given ample time to shine. It made me realize that Fantagio played their cards right with knowing which members to highlight at just the right time. With the public being quite unfamiliar with six of the eight girls, Choi Yoojung and Kim Doyeon were given the lead parts, which is perfect for catching the attention of whoever watches the performances. Aside from the parts of the two recognizable girls, a lot of lines were given to Suyeon, in which she was able to prove that she is a trusty main vocal. Given the fact that it is rare and risky for a rookie group to have equal line distribution, I’d say that the producers of the group have done right maximizing the popularity of the two I.O.I girls, giving each of the other members ample time to showcase themselves, even if it doesn’t amount to equal screen time for the rest of the group. Aside from the three previously mentioned members, Elly, Lua, and Sei are also eye-catching with their amazing command of the camera.
Unfortunately, Weki Meki’s debut reflected quite poorly on the charts compared to many post-I.O.I debuts and releases, so it’s quite disappointing how the song didn’t grow on a lot of people like it did on me. Not counting the charts, the group successfully delivered, not only because they offered up something different, but because they showcased their impressive stage abilities and group color, which counts even more when you’re a group in the process of introducing yourself to the public. With how entertained I was with “I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend,” I can’t wait to see what the group has in store for their first comeback.
“I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend” Title Score – 9.0/10
WEME Album Score – 8.3/10
Music Video Score – 8.7/10