“Magnetic”: ILLIT Arrives With One Hell of a Catchy Debut

The newest HYBE girl group makes their instantly addictive first move.

Meet ILLIT, the newest girlies on the K-pop scene.

The girl group is made up of five members – Yunah, Minju, Moka, Wonhee and Iroha – ranging from the ages of 16 to 20. (There was actually a sixth member, but she decided to voluntarily drop out right before their debut and dissolve her contract with the company. Pre-debut drama!)

Like many rookie troupes these days, ILLIT was formed on a survival show. The series was called R U Next?, and aired on JTBC last year between June and September, whittling down 22 hopefuls all vying for a spot in the next big girl group. After making it through to the final round, the six remaining girls were signed by Belift Lab, a HYBE sub-label. (You know HYBE as the massive entertainment entity behind acts like BTSTXT, NewJeans and LE SSERRAFIM.)

What is an ILLIT, though? So glad you asked! (Spoiler alert: it’s not short for ILLITerate, although I do hope that’s the official fandom name. I consider myself an ILLITerate already.)

During the finale of R U Next?, producers provided the meaning behind the name, explaining that it “represents choosing your own verb to put between ‘I’ll’ and ‘It,'” which is meant to represent the members’ abilities to choose their own destiny, or something. ILLTAKEIT.

With HYBE chairman Bang Si-hyuk at the executive producer helm (as he’s done for many of the biggest groups), the girls formally arrived on March 25 with their debut EP, SUPER REAL ME.

With a runtime of just over 9 minutes (!), ILLIT make a short-but-sweet case for lasting staying power in the K-pop space. The 4-track collection is stuffed to the brim with top K-pop producer and songwriters, supplying a non-stop array of breezy, dreamy pop gems bursting with charmingly chipper production and endless hooks – all led by one hell of an instantly addictive lead single, which rightfully leads the pack.

Baby, I’m just trying to play it cool, but I just can’t hide that I want you…” Wonhee declares to a crush in the song’s opening seconds.

The pluggnb and house-inspired, dizzy-in-love burst of flirtatious energy is an earworm from the jump, but becomes especially sticky once it arrives at that perfect, stuck on repe-pe-pea-peat stuttering chorus. (“You-u-u-u-u-u, like it’s magnetic“) It’s endlessly replayable K-pop confection, and all but destined to become a TikTok hit. (With 30,000 videos and counting using the sound, it already is.)

The whole set of songs is solid, from the cool and confident invitation into their soundscape (“My World”), to the dreamy “Midnight Fiction,” to the amusingly titled, aggressively cheerful “Lucky Girl Syndrome” – a topic that’s become inescapable on TikTok. “Yeah, I’m a lucky girl” the troupe declares while tossing out lyrics about sweet treats, perfect weather and selfies. Oh, Radical Optimism, get off the floor!

As far as their sonic identity, it’s still early days with ILLIT. The members really put an emphasis on the word “whimsical” to describe themselves in their debut showcase. Yes, it’s all fresh and fun and youthful like NewJeans, to whom they’ll undoubtedly be compared to most, but if anything, “Magnetic” brings LOONA‘s ODD EYE CIRCLE to mind, and maybe some Red Velvet circa “Russian Roulette” – a compliment of the highest order.

But rather than getting bogged down by playing the comparison game (boring!), I’d rather wait and see how the group establishes their sound and style over the next few releases. They’ve certainly stuck the landing with their debut. Whatever comes next, ILLSTREAMIT.

Buy the Super Real Me EP box.

Check out the MuuTunes Spotify playlist. You can also subscribe on Apple Music.

Photo credit: HYBE / Instagram

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