Disclaimer: Due to a general lack of enthusiasm for the release and a case of the cold, this review may be shorter and meaner than it rightfully warrants. I’ll see tomorrow.
After a few honestly confusing teasers that somehow wanted to synergize melting ice cream with Sailor Moon cosplay, AOA’s newest sub-unit AOA Cream (somewhere, AOA Black’s poor Youkyung is crying into a vat of leftover ice cream right now) has debuted with its first single “I’m Jelly Baby.” While the idea of releasing more AOA sub-units is an admirable way to give exposure to the non-Seolhyuns and non-Choa’s of the group, “I’m Jelly Baby” fails to craft a memorable identity for AOA Cream to call its own.
Part of the problem with “I’m Jelly Baby” is that it’s incredibly forgettable. While criminally-underrated Yuna kicks the song off with some promising power, the production is a muddled loud mess of electronic thwomps and synths that don’t vary enough between verses, choruses and hooks to really gain any momentum. “I’m Jelly Baby” starts off in one gear and stays on auto-pilot for its overly-long four-and-a-half minute running time. The crammed production isn’t helped by the aggressively processed and double-tracked vocals of the members as it leaves the instrumentals and the singers sounding incredibly one-note. The song tries to counter this through sheer volume, as if slightly increasing the speed of the synths equates to genuine thrills but it doesn’t do much more than drown out everything around it and increase the need for an Advil. By the time the last synth mercifully blares, it’s hard to recall any single moment of “I’m Jelly Baby” because the whole track blends together into a mediocre deflating balloon of pop noise.
The overall unexceptional single gets a video that is equally uninspiring. Generally, sub-units are a good way for a group to explore concepts and ideas that may not gel well with the main group’s image whether that be through aegyo concepts like Rainbow Pixie, off-the-wall concepts like Orange Caramel or BAND CONCEPTS LIKE AOA BLACK ARGHGERTGHRUIohrGKJSDFGJKSHGJHDFJHGU. Huff, huff. In “I’m Jelly Baby,” it’s difficult to suss out just what sort of concept AOA Cream is making for itself (the unremarkable single does them no favors either). The sub-unit is one part Sailor Moon and one part trickster god but neither really pushes AOA Cream towards any unique image to call its own. Instead, the video seems to try to substitute a strict palette of yellows, pinks and whites for an actual idea and the video is all the less impactful for it. Add in the boilerplate choreo shots and forgettable plot line of AOA Cream’s Revenge and what’s left is the least exciting project that an AOA affiliated unit has produced so far. Yuna, Chanmi and Hyejeong deserve better.