As some of my regular readers might know, I don’t spend a *ton* of time listening to solo artists. I cover a decent amount of them on my blog, but this is a rather new development that’s part of an effort to expand my horizons. So as a result, I’m not super familiar with Somi’s solo music. I followed her a lot during the Produce 101 and I.O.I days, which were a good five years ago (SO WILD how it’s been that long). But by the time she debuted as a soloist in 2019, I’d become less adventurous in my K-pop tastes and was mostly sticking to my favorite groups. I’ve heard her other two singles, but not recently enough to really remember what either sounds like. So this time around with “Dumb Dumb,” I made sure to pay very close attention.
When I first listened to “Dumb Dumb,” it immediately gave me two distinct vibes. The verse starts out with a very light and charming feel – I wouldn’t call it cute, but it’s definitely a little on the bubbly side. And then once the beat drops, the chorus becomes grittier and has the song go into a more sultry girl crush type direction. The song structure is actually pretty similar to Jennie’s “SOLO,” which makes sense since both tracks were made by TEDDY (the head of Somi’s label and BLACKPINK’s frequent collaborator/producer). I think the track is arranged like this because it’s meant to express Somi’s duality as a sweet girl next door and as a confident bombshell, which you can also see evidence of in both the choreography and music video.
In general, I think “Dumb Dumb” succeeds in showing both sides of Somi’s persona – both musically and visually. But in my opinion, it could have been a *touch* better at blending the two opposing concepts. While “Dumb Dumb” becomes a little more cohesive to me with each listen, my first impression was that it definitely sounded like two separate songs. I have similar feelings about the choreography, as well: the flourishing hand movements of the verses are really different from all the body rolls happening in the chorus. None of this is a big deal, and I don’t think it affects the quality of the release. I just feel there could have been a little better balanced to make everything feel more seamlessly connected.
The music video portrays Somi as a high school student, and it’s about how she captures the attention of the popular football player with her confidence and beauty. It’s definitely a cute story, but I personally think it misses the mark with the relatability factor. As a song, “Dumb Dumb” is about trying to look cool in front of your crush (key word: trying) and wanting to impress them, which is something most of us have experienced. But there doesn’t seem to be much of a conflict or a “will they/won’t they” dynamic in this video – the guy liking her back is just a foregone conclusion. I think the issue is that K-pop makes idols always look so perfect and put-together, especially in music videos. Looks certainly aren’t everything, but Somi is just so stunning here that I have a tough time believing she couldn’t get any guy she wanted.
That being said, music videos like this obviously aren’t indicative of real teen/high school life. (Media rarely is.) So, does the music video for “Dumb Dumb” HAVE to portray a typical situation that many of us go through? Of course not. However, I believe it was a missed opportunity. One thing I distinctly remember about Somi from shows like Sixteen and Produce 101 was that she really wasn’t afraid to be funny and look silly. You don’t get to see much of that side of her in this music video, aside from the hilarious horror parody part where she’s trying to kill a bunch of cockroaches. I wish there had been a little more of those scenes thrown into the mix, because I think it would have given more dimension to her character and the narrative.
MY OVERALL INTEREST LEVEL
(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.)
While there are parts of “Dumb Dumb” that I find interesting, I ultimately gave it a mostly “neutral” response because I just don’t really resonate with it. I’d probably like it a lot more if I was still in high school or college, but it’s not a match for the present day me. (Though I really do enjoy the key point choreography, because it is killer.) That being said, I do find “Dumb Dumb” a lot more memorable than Somi’s two previous singles. And I can also tell that she’s improved a ton over the years – she was always good, but her confidence and technique have really grown. So even though I’m not personally into “Dumb Dumb,” I think this is a great comeback for her that really showcases her talent and potential. And, it makes me pretty interested to see what she’ll come up with in the future.
(“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: Music video belongs to The Black Label. Featured image is a picture of Somi at SBS Inkigayo on August 8th, 2021. The original picture came from SBS K-pop’s Twitter account – you can see the original tweet here.