NewJeans' 'How Sweet' Should Rule This Summer — And It Still Can

Don’t let the HYBE drama overshadow the actually banging music.

Around this time last year NewJeans had a veritable summer smash on their hands. “Super Shy,” upon its release on July 7, was everywhere. Online, its bubbly chorus soundtracked millions (specifically, 2.6 million) of TikTok dances, but it was also as inescapable in the real world: I heard it blasting in Boba tea shops, at any slightly pan-Asian restaurant, the club (in a club remixed version, of course), and, randomly, my friend’s nieces’ dance recital (an indication of just how wide their reach was). If before they were just a rookie group ready to launch, “Super Shy” skyrocketed them into into household names.

But, more recently, the group’s seemingly steady trajectory has experienced a bit of a hiccup. A bout of unfortunate workplace drama — that doesn’t actually involve the members themselves — has left a clunky scuff on their otherwise untarnished performance, and right as they’ve released their bid for two more summer smashers with bubbly new electro songs, “Bubble Gum,” and “How Sweet.”

For an abridged rundown of what’s gone down: Back in April, HYBE began an audit into its subsidiary label ADOR, the imprint to which NewJeans is signed, and accused ADOR CEO, Min Hee-Jin, of basically trying to incite a mutiny by secretly courting investors to help ADOR break away from HYBE so it could independently manage NewJeans. The debacle has since devolved into multiple rounds of he said she saids involving accusations of plagiarism, bringing in other groups like Illit and BTS, a weepy press conference from Hee-Jin, and Korean and international netizens taking sides on the whole affair. NewJeans, meanwhile, has become the awkward child caught in the middle of its parents’ messy divorce; none of the members have spoken on-the-record about the issue publicly, and they dropped “Bubble Gum” on April 26, and “How Sweet” on May 24, as if nothing was happening. The reception to both songs have been much more subdued: when “Super Shy” arrived in 2023, it immediately debuted at no. 66 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Bubble Gum” didn’t even make it on the chart.‌

Which is confusing, because they both are certifiable bops. “Bubble Gum,” with its weightless city-pop bounce, was made for chilling and sipping a zero-proof poolside; while “How Sweet,” which I’ve read is technically Miami bass, but to me, gives off zingy electroclash, caters to the tender, humid moments on a lit-up dancefloor. Together, they are heads and tails of a perfect summer coin — and they deserve the chance to fulfill that purpose.

While it feels over-the-top to chalk the songs’ under performance up to deliberate company sabatoge by HYBE as some fans in the YouTube comments have, the drama certainly hasn’t helped the rollout despite it not being NewJeans on the stand — a point that’s ultimately really unfortunate. (Fans are accusing the company of adding restrictions to the music video, deleting comments, and otherwise messing with the statistics, all of which a HYBE representative tells NYLON are false. “We are fully committed to supporting NewJeans and their music, and are focused on ensuring psychological and emotional well-being of the members,” they add.)

Here’s hoping the group’s upcoming June release, Supernatural, rightfully diverts the attention back to what it should’ve been all along: the members’ talents, charm, and unending charisma. It’s the least the members deserve from both ADOR and HYBE.