Knee Jerk Reaction: “Popping” by ONF

I can’t believe this is the THIRD time I’m writing about ONF in six months – they’ve truly been everywhere recently. But all that hard work is clearly paying off, because 2021 is turning out to be one of their best years yet. After earning their first ever music show win and getting some great results on various charts, they’re back with a new mini album all about summer. (Seriously, three out of five songs have the word “summer” in the title.) And just like their previous two singles, their latest title track is all about the good vibes.

“Popping” is a super feel-good dance track that’s a perfect match for summer. The whole arrangement is bright and refreshing, blending nicely with ONF’s clean vocals and boyish charm. I also enjoy the light-hearted flute parts, which give the whole thing some extra buoyancy. As my regular readers will know, I’m not big on “happy-go-lucky” types of songs. 75% of the time, I’ll say that they’re really nice and then promptly stop listening to them about two days later. To be honest, this *might* happen with “Popping” since there’s so much new music dropping right now – and a fair amount it is all the same genre. But I have to say, ONF is incredibly good at this style of music and it definitely makes them stand out. There’s such a joyful exuberance to their singing that I can’t help but smile along.

That sheer positive energy also translates into the choreography for “Popping,” which is filled with fun footwork and bouncy steps. (And, of course, some popping to match that song title.) As always, ONF is an absolute delight to watch dancing. Their movements are so crisp and clean, and their teamwork and synchronization are on point. Most importantly, I can tell they’re genuinely enjoying themselves onstage. While it’s always nice to see that idols are engaged in their performances, it’s extra essential for a such a fun and heartwarming song like “Popping.” It’s what makes that happiness so impossibly infectious.

Much like ONF’s previous releases, the music video for “Popping” is absolutely stunning. It has a bright and vivid color palette, and some seriously high quality visual effects. While I find it pretty entertaining, I’m a little confused about its overall story since there are two distinct narratives. The first half mostly shows ONF goofing off – playing basketball and golf, having water gun fights, etc. There are also some scenes where they appear to be putting on a play at a community theater. In the second half, they appear to be astronauts and scientists/researchers preparing to head out into space… and it looks like they’re tragically attacked in the middle of the mission. (Are those the robot soldiers from “Beautiful Beautiful?”)

To be honest, I was a little taken aback by the sudden tone shift – it turned such a carefree and upbeat song into more of a bittersweet moment, and I wasn’t ready for that. Also, I definitely feel like I’m missing something plot-wise. I don’t really remember the stories of ONF’s other music videos (though I clearly recall aesthetics), and I’m thinking that the plot might be connected to something else that I missed or forgot a while ago. My other theory is that second half of the music video is a large-scale fantasy version of the space-themed play they were performing at the theater, but I don’t really have any concrete evidence for that. You all know I like music videos to have clear understandable narratives (if they choose to include one), so I wish that it didn’t leave me with quite so many questions at the end. But the overall visual quality of the video is so nice that I’m willing to give that a pass.


(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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All in all, “Popping” is another great release from ONF. Personally, I feel like I won’t invest a lot of time in it right now – I’m seriously struggling keeping up with all of August’s new music – but I definitely think they did an amazing job. I also believe all of their comebacks this year have been really good and consistent in quality. It’s clear they’re remarkably talented, and I’m glad people are starting to realize that. I still wish they were more popular than they currently are, but I’m happy with the milestones they’ve achieved so far. It seems like their path to the top might be slow and steady, but I’m still confident they’ll get there.

(“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 and featured image belong to WM Entertainment.

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