NewJeans Is Already In The Running For Best K-pop Debut Of 2022

Straight from the 2000s.

When NewJeans said that they were looking for attention, they got it with their unique take on the generation-favored Y2K concept.

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It seems like every other week, a new K-pop group is debuting. It can get to the point where all these new hopefuls get lost in the shuffle as they enter a sea of artists competing for your attention. This is why for NewJeans, their debut has been unlike any other. The fact that they are the second girl group to come from HYBE already makes them stand out. But the quintet ended up being one of the best surprises of July and K-pop in general this year with a roll out that is anything but typical. The group took on the 2000s aesthetic, gave it their K-pop spin, and hit the right notes with their debut.


NewJeans is the latest girl group to come from HYBE and the first under their new sub-label, ADOR (All Doors One Room), which is led by the former Creative Director of SM Entertainment Min Hee-Jin (more on her later). The group is composed of five members, Minji (17), Danielle (17), Haerin (16),  Hanni (18), and Hyein (14). While the group first got the public’s attention in late July, they made their official debut on August 1 with the release of their single, Cookie. This may be the first time that people are seeing the girls for the first time, they’ve appeared in a few projects before.

Minji and Haerin were in BTS’ Permission To Dance music video as those students dancing on the bridge. Hyein, meanwhile, used to be in a group called USSO.GIRL. (By the way, she is also an ARMY and has met TXT before so LE SSERAFIM’s Yunjin now has a fellow fan girl at HYBE.) Also, Danielle and Hanni are part Australian so Jake’s no longer the only Aussie in HYBE. The name NewJeans comes from the fact that the group are like the clothing item. No matter the year or decade, jeans will always be in style and NewJeans to always be a constant to matter what.


The most standout thing about NewJeans is their very Y2K aesthetic. The 2000s are now back in style and HYBE and ADOR saw the opportunity to mold a new girl group around that whole concept and they knocked it out of the park. From their looks, songs, videos, and much more, NewJeans looks like they stepped right out of the early 2000s even though the members weren’t born yet. The turn of the new millennium vibe the group is going for is both nostalgic yet feels fresh for today.

There’s no one quite like NewJeans in K-pop, which helps them stand out even more. In the era of big beats and explosive sounds, NewJeans offers an early 2000s touch that easily cuts through the noise. Their app, which is called Phoning, also carries their Y2K concept loud and proud. Fans get to interact more with the group with a design that reminds us of those colorful notebooks you find at bookstore back in the day. NewJeans looks like a Y2K mood board come to life. The fits are all on-point and their music videos are aesthetically pleasing with each song getting their own video. Speaking of their videos, they dropped five MVs for Hype Boy, each showing the POV of all five members. We appreciate how diverse and inclusive these videos are. It showcases different nationalities, skin colors, and even LGBTQIA+ couples.


NewJeans isn’t just all hype though. Their music is pretty good as well. To date, the group has dropped four songs, Attention, Hype Boy, Hurt, and Cookie. All the songs feature this light R&B touch that encapsulates the freshness of youth. It’s chill, laid back, and old school in the best way possible. The chorus to Attention is a serve, Hype Boy is a fun and catchy bop and the best song on their debut EP, Hurt is a slightly more emotional jam with a touching message, while Cookie is a playful (maybe even too playful) R&B bop. The throwback sound and style suits the girls really well.


While a regular debut with this kind of concept would be good enough to catch our attention, NewJeans stands out even more because of how different they do things. ADOR was set up to test new strategies to promote groups and that was seen with their roll out. For starters, NewJeans was introduced to the public by surprise in late July when HYBE dropped Attention out of nowhere. They then dropped follow-up singles Hybe Boy and Hurt later on before marking their official debut with Cookie.

As for their debut album, that is set to drop later in the month. We had no idea who these girls were nor what even their names when Attention dropped. It was only revealed when the music video for Hype Boy dropped. But that air of mystery made us want to get to know them more. The hype was real which is why they’ve built a strong following out of the gate. It was a surprise rollout that worked in their favor.


As further proof that no one is doing it like NewJeans, their debut EP comes in a bag. The NewJeans Bag comes in three colors, red, white, and black. Aside from the actual bag, you’ll also get a pin-up book, a CD, and photocards. Most K-pop albums come with a variety of inclusions, but rarely have you seen one be in the form of a bag. The circular shoulder bag is both stylish and practical, something you can wear while out of the house. The design of the bag also adds to its cute and quirky aesthetic. Even non K-pop stans can get a use out of the NewJeans bag as their latest accessory.


While it is fun to celebrate new and exciting artists, it also should be mentioned the elephant in the room that has hounded NewJeans because it is important. If you’ve been on K-pop twitter recently, you know what we are talking about. Over the past weeks, ADOR’s founder Min Hee-Jin has been accused of sexualizing minors all the way back to her time in SM. Many have pointed out that some of her creative stylings have portrayed idols in uncomfortable positions. Meanwhile, others have said that her visual inspirations for NewJeans includes some unsavory examples like Brooke Shields being on Playboy at only 10 years old.

Obviously, none of this is the group’s fault. But it should be noted that most of the members are minors and Cookie has raised some eyebrows because of its questionable lyrics. The girls are debuting in an industry that is not squeaky clean, so hopefully moving forward they aren’t forced to do questionable activities and are safe. The last thing a group composed of 04-08 liners is to do concepts that are way too mature for their age.

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