Knee Jerk Reaction: “Ugly Dance” by ONF

It’s been a long time coming, but ONF is FINALLY getting the attention they deserve. After receiving their first ever music show win with “Beautiful Beautiful” in February – a major milestone achievement – they’ve made a quick turnaround and released “Ugly Dance” as their repackage single. While I already liked it from the start, I’m finding my interest is rapidly growing every time I listen again. It’s just so fun, funky, and addictive! So I highly recommend checking it out, but it comes with a warning: it WILL get stuck in your head.

The title “Ugly Dance” is a bit misleading, because this is K-pop and idols can’t perform dances that don’t look nice. In fact, the choreography for this song is aesthetically pleasing and highly entertaining. I believe the title means something more like, “Dance like no one is watching.” The empowering lyrics are about how you should do what you want without worrying about what’s popular. It’s a freeing message that’s always welcome, especially in this day and age when it seems like it’s ALL about the social media trends. Though I do feel the message gets just a *little* muddled, because I personally think the less intense parts of the choreography look like viral TikTok dances. (I’m not talking about any specific dance, but lots of the ones I’ve seen have a similar look and flow.) But I also interpret it as ONF’s way of saying they set their own trends and that we should too.

Not only is the subject of “Ugly Dance” really relatable to many people, but it also holds a special meaning for ONF themselves. They’re such a highly creative group, and they’ve gotten where they are today by walking their own path and making their own kind of music. In my opinion, I don’t think any of their main singles have followed the trend of what was popular at the time. (Which is perhaps why they were so underrated for so long.) In a way, “Ugly Dance” is kind of like the story of their career, or at the very least a motto they seem to go by. It’s not that common for K-pop songs to be self-aware, so I’m personally living for lines like “I’m sick of love songs, they all sound the same” and “There are plenty of sexy idols out there.” It’s definitely all in good fun, but it’s just the right amount of sass.

I try really hard not to compare a group’s latest single with their previous songs, especially for repackages when the previous release is still fresh in my mind. However, I have to bring up “Beautiful Beautiful” because I’m just so fascinated by how “Ugly Dance” is its polar opposite in several ways – not just in name. “Beautiful Beautiful” has this really epic and larger than life sound where everything is so high-energy; while “Ugly Dance” also has its exciting moments, its foundation is much more laidback and groovy. The two songs are super different, but they also complement each other really well. It’s kind of like they’re two sides of the same coin, and both of them help show off the whole of ONF’s versatility and range.

Another interesting contrast between the two releases is the music videos – they’re set in the same universe, but the aesthetics couldn’t be more different. “Beautiful Beautiful” is a paradise of bright colors and special effects, with a storyline that has ONF running from the authorities in a super high-tech and colorful city. On the other hand, “Ugly Dance” is almost entirely set in one room and heavily focuses on the choreography. I actually don’t mind that it’s basically a dance video, because you all know that’s usually my favorite part anyway. But I do have one major issue – someone thought it would be a great idea to put ONF in all-white outfits IN A FLUORESCENT WHITE ROOM. And I find this super annoying because I literally can’t see them for half the video. But that’s genuinely my only complaint about this entire comeback, so it’s very minor in the grand scheme of things.


(NOTE: My options for each category are “Love,” “Like,” “Neutral,” “Not My Style,” or “Dislike.” But I rarely dislike anything, so I’ll mostly be using the other four.)

CategoryMy Opinion
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If you can’t tell, I’m super into “Ugly Dance.” I love the song and the performance, and I’d love the music video too if they hadn’t done the white-on-white thing. I think it’s so catchy, and the “What’s up bro, what’s up sis” parts are honestly so endearing. It could easily become one of my dance jams of the year. That being said, I know that this is exactly the kind of song that I could get too excited about. I can easily see myself overplaying it to the point where I get bored and don’t want to hear it anymore. So I hope I can keep myself in check, because this is a song I want to be listening to for a long time.

(“Knee Jerk Reaction” is a column I created to talk about comebacks or debuts when I don’t have a lot of time to write in-depth reviews. A knee jerk reaction is like an automatic response, so it’s a post about my initial thoughts on the song, the music video, and the performance if it’s available. Compared to my reviews, everything is more stream of consciousness and less analytical. And everything is 100% my own opinion!)

SOURCES: Featured image and music video belong to WM Entertainment.

2 thoughts on “Knee Jerk Reaction: “Ugly Dance” by ONF

  1. Interesting! You are only the second person that I have seen to really like this song – most people I follow really didn’t love it. I’m still really ambivalent – I think I need at least another week to make my mind up haha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhhh that IS super interesting! But I see why people wouldn’t be into it (or would be on the fence about it). It definitely grew on me while I was writing this post hahaha

      Liked by 1 person

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