NEW DNA (Apple Music Edition) - EP
Though girl group XG, short for Xtraordinary Girls, may often be filed under K-pop, they self-identify as making a different kind of music altogether. The South Korea-based septet is composed entirely of Japanese artists—Jurin, Chisa, Hinata, Harvey, Juria, Maya, and Cocona—who sing predominantly in English, but when asked to describe their music, they don’t call it K-pop or J-pop, but rather “X-pop.” “I would describe XG's sound as a mixture inspired by R&B and hip-hop, but we also have a lot of original flavors included in there as well,” 21-year-old Chisa explained to Apple Music’s Brooke Reese, through a translator. “The letter ‘X’ represents that unknown nature.” The best way to understand the X factor of XG’s music, of course, is to listen to it. The group’s debut EP, NEW DNA features six tracks, including the short, trippy intro “HESONOO,” which introduces a science-fiction concept for the album through phrases like “orbital phase initiated” and “hibernation deactivated”—the young members of XG are no longer in training mode, but are ready for their planetary landing, as it were. The sci-fi vibes continue in “X-GENE,” a hip-hop track that combines girl-power self-confidence with interstellar lingo: “Whether you alienate it, planet invaded/All day and every day we slayin’ it.” XG describes the theme of pre-release single “GIRL GVNG” as “arrival.” The trap-beat track is an edgier offering of the “girl crush” trend that is so popular within 2023 K-pop, with lyrics like “Don’t you let these/Pretty faces fool you/Savage underneath/There’s no limit.” NEW DNA doubles down on the sci-fi swagger that defines the album in “TGIF,” which XG says is about “evolution”: “All across the globe and out the solar/Nobody comin’ close when we show up.” It’s “PUPPET SHOW,” however, that gets the most grounded with its concept, taking the frustration of being a woman in an imbalanced relationship (“We spend a lot of time talkin’/But it feels like I’m never heard”) and explicitly inviting listeners to imagine a world where the traditional dynamic is reversed: “Welcome to the puppet show/Where we play ’em like they’re plastic dolls/They’ll do anything, anything, anything/When you got ’em hanging by a string.” Despite the song's relatable theme, there’s still something sci-fi in its evocation of an eerie yet powerful alternate reality where women have more social power. It seems to be in this space—a high-concept hip-hop world—that XG is staking their claim.