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NewJeans, 'Ditto'

On "Ditto," K-pop girl group NewJeans is still holding out for a Christmas miracle. "My feelings for you, like the memories we share, have grown so big," singer Haerin confesses, hoping for reciprocation. Choral synth pads blanket the song like freshly fallen snow, embodying the down-home comforts of the holiday season; their gratitude is the sort that arises in the year's final days, when we reflect on those who've made our lives a little brighter.

Their previous single, "Cookie," incorporated Jersey club into the architecture of a bubbly synth-R&B song; "Ditto" takes that fascination with club music further, but only in its most modest form. Instead of brash and bracing kicks, the drums are soft and endearing, like the reverberating heartbeat of someone you're cuddling with. There's little else beyond handclaps and a scurrying drum break — which approximates the Think break in Baltimore club tracks — for ornamentation, but NewJeans has always known that less is more. The group is a refreshing alternative to the maximalist ethos defining contemporary K-pop, and it's in restraint that "Ditto" feels empowering: "I want you so ... so say it ditto."

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Joshua Minsoo Kim