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Take a Peek Into JO1’s Discography in EQUINOX (Special Edition)

Composed of the group’s past releases and tracks
Creating their own path, J-pop group JO1 takes inspiration from Korean music and concepts for their releases.
Rating: B
Photo Credit: Lapone Entertainment

JO1, a Japanese-Korean pop group, debuted through the South Korean survival show, Produce 101 where 101 idol trainees compete to debut. The final debut lineup consists of the 11 trainees that remain after three elimination rounds. The program is known to be very competitive as every elimination cuts the amount of participants in half; the show only had 57 contestants left after the first round.

After 12 episodes, the final lineup emerged as winners and the group debuted under Lapone Entertainment. Founded in 2019, the company is formed by Japan’s Yoshimoto Kogyo Holdings and South Korea’s CJ ENM Entertainment. JO1 incorporates elements of K-pop, such as choreography and music, into their discography.

After taking a listen to a few of JO1’s tracks, it surprised me how they haven’t spiked in popularity. As the first Japanese group that debuted with the Korean program, I expected them to gain traction in other countries, similar to how other K-pop groups have. However, it seems that JO1 is overshadowed by previous groups that have debuted through Produce 101.  

The album starts off strong with the song “Venus,” which incorporates a loud, drum focused beat to pull in listeners from the get go. The song then “cools down” a few seconds into the song and becomes more vocal focused with a less intense drum beat, no longer overpowering the instrumentals. Although the initial overpowering instrumental was what made the song stand out, this trait isn’t carried forward; it later ends off on a simple guitar beat without any other instruments.

Maintaining the intense original beat, “Itty Bitty” is reminiscent of a song that NCT127 would release. Creating a futuristic feel with the instrumental composed of a heavy bass beat and sounds of machinery, the song is quite similar to songs such as “2 Baddies” and “Punch”. Like many K-pop songs, this one follows the cliche storyline of falling in love and confessing to a girl. Lyrics such as “What is the true nature of this uncontrollable feeling?” and “I won’t hide my feelings anymore” express the thoughts running through one’s head as they experience love.

Mad In Love” contrasted my initial expectations of how the song would sound. I expected a harsh beat that incorporated more rap rather than vocals, as the title suggests being “mad” in love. The track is strikingly similar to one that would be in a coming-of-age Korean drama, encompassing the refreshing feeling of springtime and falling in love. Vocals are emphasized more so the instrumental isn’t overpowering or “loud” compared to the other tracks.

The final track, “We Good” ends off the album with a bubbly and joyful feeling, reminiscent of the feelings a SEVENTEEN song gives. Out of the 16 tracks, this one is my favorite as it is not too overwhelming to listen to and doesn’t drown my ears in loud EDM beats.

As my first review of a J-pop boy group, JO1 has a similar discography and style to most K-pop songs so it wasn’t too much of a change except for the language used. I enjoyed many of the tracks and anyone who is an avid listener of K-pop would enjoy the nearly identical qualities that JO1 has in comparison. I look forward to what the future holds for this group and hope that you’ll enjoy their album as much as I did.

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