XG: Woke Up – Single Review

Following the September release of their debut EP New DNA, XG returns with the release of their bombastic rap single ‘Woke Up’.

A 7-member Japanese girl group from Avex subsidiary label XGALX, XG came barrelling onto the music scene in 2022 with their debut singles ‘Tippy Toes’ and ‘Mascara’. The brainchild of former K-Pop idol Simon “Jakops” Park, XG trained extensively in South Korea and has seen a rapid rise in popularity since their rap cypher, aptly titled ‘Galz Xypher’, which went viral on TikTok, garnering upwards of 15 million views on the platform and 34 million views on YouTube. Composed of rappers Jurin, Maya, Harvey and Cocona, and vocalists Chisa, Hinata and Juria, XG’s music brings the best of K-Pop production to global audiences through fun, digestible, all-English lyrics.

Short for Xtraordinary Girls, XG have been marketing themselves as X-Pop since debut, with the aim of releasing global pop music that has the shiny production of K-Pop but the mass market appeal that the industry lacked until BTS kicked down the doors to the West. A real testament to their training and Jakops’ discernment as a CEO, XG are an undeniable powerhouse group; each member is an incredible vocalist, skilled dancer, and the group’s rap line is made up of arguably the best female rappers in the industry. ‘Woke Up’ only proves to further cement this sentiment into fact.

Released on 21st of May, the single ‘Woke Up’ is the group’s first rap-only track paced over a strong 808 bass with hints of East Asian instrumentals. Written and arranged by Jakops and frequent collaborator Chancellor with additional lyrics from YOX (Year of the Ox) rap-duo Jaeyoung and Lyricks, ‘Woke Up’ hits the ground running and doesn’t let up once, giving each girl their chance to dominate uninterrupted.

The first XG single to feature all members rapping, ‘Woke Up’ definitely favours the group’s rap line but still manages to leave room for the vocal line to prove they’re more than just high notes and ad-libs. Each girl has such a distinct flow and cadence, from quiet confidence to overt swagger, and every one oozes a unique charisma. While Jurin, Harvey, Maya and Cocona get two aggressive verses each, Juria floats into her verse to give listeners a short reprieve while still showcasing her abilities to mince words with her rapper groupmates. Backed up by Hinata’s simple but punchy chorus line of “Woke up lookin’ like this / So don’t get under my skin”, ‘Woke Up’ ticks all the boxes for an earworm smash hit that’s destined to be on repeat until their next release graces our streaming services.

Although XG’s rappers have yet to venture into writing their own bars, they are able to handle what’s written for them so deftly, you’d be forgiven for thinking they had a direct hand in the lyrics. Despite English being their third language, they bounce over every vowel and consonant with incredible skill and speed (I’ve personally been trying to nail the ‘Woke Up’ verses since its release and it is no easy feat, even for a native English speaker like me).

Even though it’s just a taster, ‘Woke Up’ is so satisfying to listen to that it’s impossible to feel robbed by the lack of accompanying tracks in this release. Whatever strategy Jakops and the team at XGALX have in store for XG’s future releases, it’s an effective one. Sprinkling out a single here and there between full scale releases is not a new concept globally but is one that is not utilised within the South Korean music industry. A track as powerful and frenetic as ‘Woke Up’ adequately feeds the needs of ALPHAZ (XG’s fanbase) while also amping up the excitement for what’s coming next.

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