Over the last few weeks, I have become more and more invested in ITZY’s “Sneakergate”. Originally teased as a chic, royal concept, the rug was pulled from the underside by fans Sneakers‘ Kidz Bop-esque sound sample occurred. That teaser turned into Stockholm Syndrome, which is repeated daily until you had no choice but to give in. A conspiracy theory quickly gained ground among fans. This could not be the actual song, right? It was all a list committed by JYP for some unknown reason. This confusion eventually made it to the girls themselves, forces poor Ryujin to set the record. This is my kind of K-pop mess!
But really should Sneakers surprise anyone? ITZY has been targeting a young market since its debut, and this song is in line with the tween audience. Its biggest problem is that it sounds like a CF too Skechers. This extends to songwriting, which feels unaffected compared to most major agency comebacks. Sneakers has a similar energy as 2019’s excellent Icy, but lacks the song’s dynamic centerpieces. Based on the teasers, many of us expected something super brave and annoying. What we have instead is a strangely reserved commercial jingle.
On the plus side, Sneakers‘Instrumental is built around an enjoyable funk bounce. The manufacturers could have raised this groove with a greater sense of excitement and building, but the basic ingredients are there. ITZY sounds extremely good through most of the track – especially the vocal-driven pre-choruses. But the end result is too empty to compete with their best work. I have not loved many of their recent title tracks, but it feels like a regression. It’s a cute little bop for the kids, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But three years into their careers, I had hoped to see the group throw the glove down and find yet another discography-defining hit.