Like clockwork, Somi’s annual comeback is here. In 2019, she gave us a great debut with the fun and vibrant ‘Birthday’ and its ultra-cool, longing B-side ‘Outta My Head’, while last year saw her deliver the infectious ‘What You Waiting For’. Following those releases, her latest single ‘Dumb Dumb’ is frustrating and underwhelming.
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It’s rare for K-pop artists to put out such little material in two years, especially for a newer act. Somi’s lack of activity might feel like less of an issue if it felt like, when she did show up, she was building on her reputation and musical identity with songs that were both of high quality and felt like they represented her. Instead, it feels like The Black Label doesn’t have a game plan for her and that the former I.O.I member’s potential is being squandered.
This latest release does nothing to detract from that idea, foisting a track on her that sounds like a diluted take on one of BLACKPINK’s weaker songs. Somi is known for her bright personality and she could easily light up a mediocre song, but even she struggles to elevate this to anything beyond dull.
‘Dumb Dumb’ could be stronger if it was given time to develop but, at two-minutes-and-30-seconds, it’s over before it really gets going. There are good points to it – the chorus’ dirty bass that wouldn’t sound out of place thumping through a deep house track and Somi’s accompanying shift into her lower register are alluring and arresting. The dynamic between the rumbling chorus and the higher-pitched verses could become a slick chop-and-change moment in the track if it was given more time to grow, but after only three shifts down gear, the song’s over.
If the approach is to make Somi sound a little bit like other female artists and hope that’s enough, then job done. The incredibly brief rap could easily fit into Jennie’s ‘Solo’, while the flip into the chorus and its whistled melody calls back to elements of Sunmi’s ‘Gashina’. The results feel like Teddy Park – who co-produced all three songs – is swiftly running out of ideas, yet it’s not his career that suffers but Somi’s.
Lyrically, things don’t get any better. If, as the music video for ‘Dumb Dumb’ suggests, Somi is aiming for a younger teen market, the message of the track is misguided at best. “I’m putting on an act with all I got,” she sings on the chorus. “This is all for you.” Later, she tells the “dumb dumb” boy she’s changing herself for: “You falling in love with me is going as I planned.” Whatever happened to being yourself?
Sure, it might be relatable for that stage in your life where you think you have to alter yourself to be attractive to other people, but it might be nice to let young fans know that isn’t necessary. When Somi adds in the pre-chorus “Embrace me, even the parts of me that you’re scared of”, she might as well be talking to herself.
In a recent interview, Somi teased that she has “a lot more” material coming. Here’s hoping it’s of a much higher standard than ‘Dumb Dumb’ – and that we don’t have to wait another 12 months to hear any of it.