BABYMONSTER – ‘BABYMONS7ER’ review: lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice

“There’s a new monster / Go on and tell your friends / Promise you that we’ll haunt ya / Again and again and again,” BABYMONSTER chant in their rallying call on ‘Monsters’, the opening track of their debut mini-album ‘BABYMONS7ER’. The septet clearly establish the path they are determined to take – but it’s also a dangerous statement, one that can either age like wine or milk. And, as you’ll soon see, it’s an ironic and almost theatrical piece of foreshadowing.

The project’s title track and main attraction ‘Sheesh’ starts off well enough with an intriguing, minimalist piano instrumentation. As the song begins to pick up the pace, it all starts to feel oddly familiar, like we’ve been here before. Then, any and all promise ‘Sheesh’ has shown goes right out the window when the chorus arrives – you realise that YG Entertainment have done it again. They’ve given BABYMONSTER yet another BLACKPINK-esque song.

‘Sheesh’ is nearly identical – from structure to the call-and-response rap verse to the rallying outro – to many of BLACKPINK’s hits in recent years that it feels almost uncanny. It seems YG Entertainment have taken the wrong lessons from their immense global success with BLACKPINK (and, by extension, 2NE1). Audiences have already seen what the label is capable of, so why waste BABYMONSTER’s potential on moulding them into mere carbon copies?

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‘Sheesh’ might have made a decent (if forgettable) B-side on one of BLACKPINK’s albums, but even then, wouldn’t most just turn to the group’s old catalogue for that specific sound? BABYMONSTER, as new artists with a clean slate, have a unique but fleeting opportunity to create something entirely their own. But instead, YG Entertainment seem intent on capturing that BLACKPINK magic again – unfortunately, lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice.

The rookie girl group also fill half their mini-album with songs that we have already heard. Two of them are re-recordings of previous singles – ‘Batter Up’ and ‘Stuck In The Middle’ – to include Ahyeon’s vocals; a sweet gesture, but nothing to write home about. There’s also closing track ‘Dream’ (which has been out on YouTube for nearly a year now), a vanilla ballad that, at the very least, highlights the vocal abilities of the septet.

But it’s not all gloom and doom on ‘BABYMONS7ER’. The only other original full-length track, the Charlie Puth-penned ‘Like That’, is a hidden gem that proves BABYMONSTER have what it takes to become more than another lazy attempt by YG Entertainment. Feel-good, flirty and upbeat, ‘Like That’ takes its 2000s R&B influence head on and knocks it out of the park. It’s proof that the septet have all the makings of the next great K-pop girl group – only if YG Entertainment can find the courage to step out of their comfort zone.

One might say that it’s unfair to judge BABYMONSTER based on this one release alone, but first impressions can make or break a group. While the septet might surprise us yet, right now it’s hard to see them as anything but a hollow attempt by their agency to recreate past success. If there’s anything to take away from the release of ‘BABYMONS7ER’, it’s that recycling years-old formulas is by no means a foolproof strategy.


babymonster babymons7er album review

  • Record label: YG Entertainment
  • Release date: April 1