Chung Ha's "EENIE MEENIE" Is A Return, Restart, And A Rechoosing

K-Pop soloist Chung Ha is back with new music after two years, a creative reset that shows a new and renewed attitude towards her music.

Chung Ha's "EENIE MEENIE" Is A Return, Restart, And A Rechoosing
Chung Ha posts for a photo from her behind-the-scenes gallery. Source: CH_CHUN9HA (X/Twitter)

While most of the groups I've followed throughout my K-Pop fandom have been groups, there are a few soloists out there that have managed to catch my attention. Oftentimes, it's through raw talent and live stage presence, but most of the time, it's through music so cool that I can't help but vibe with it.

In my younger days I was a frequent bar and club hopper, and my weekend forays were often accompanied by energetic dance pop that my friends and I closed many a place with. It wasn't just the music, though, but the memories - of shared camaraderie over drinks after long work weeks, of 3am searches for a late-night place that served food to cap off the night, and of that feeling, however ephemeral, that you were invincible.

Years later, Chung Ha's music would inspire that same feeling in me and take me back to those days when adulting wasn't quite so very hard and involved lots of meetings and occasional naps. Like many fans, 2019's "Gotta Go" was my introduction to Chung Ha as a soloist, having not quite been paying attention when she was on well-known (and temporary) group I.O.I. It seemed like for a while, Chung Ha couldn't be stopped, with hits like "Snappin'" and "Stay Tonight" and the all-English "Dream of You" taking advantage of her fluency in English due to her multicultural upbringing in both America and South Korea.

Yet Chung Ha's visibility in K-Pop seemed to decrease a bit during the pandemic, with some of the massive momentum she'd achieved in the early part of her career slowing somewhat. Why this happened is honestly a point of speculation. There were, of course, all of the usual theories - that the pandemic may have blunted overall day-today for non-big 4 companies, that MNH Entertainment may have run out of resources to work with its various artists and more. But I choose not to definitively come to any conclusions. Even though Querencia and Bare & Rare part 1 seemed to not do as well when compared to prior albums, all indications seemed to point to sustainability if not a maintaining of the popularity that got her so many opportunities previously.

The only speculation I will level is that it seemed to me that Chung Ha seemed in need of a reset. "Killing Me", a special single she released during the midst of the pandemic, and between her two studio albums, put up a curious duality of outward normalcy with inward struggle. It was, to me, a bit of a departure from the straight up badass relentless dance performance-focused pop energy Chung Ha exuded in many of her previous releases. But regardless off the validity of my thoughts or any others, Chung Ha's letter upon officially parting ways with MNH seemed to point to wanting to do more, and with more freedom. With album Bare and Rare part 2 seemingly held in the hands of MNH, not to be released, and Chung Ha unable to utilize any prior social media accounts due to company ownership, fans became concerned that Chung Ha might decide not to return to an admittedly volatile industry.

Turns out that such worry turned out to have more smoke than fire. After being convinced by well-known and connected K-Pop artist Jay Park that she'd be supported and allowed the freedom she desired, Chung Ha signed with Park's label MORE VISION and began preparations for what would be the comeback that, as of this writing, is only three days old with "EENIE MEENIE", a return that was well-anticipated by her fandom.

In many ways, the hip hop and R&B track, way different than some of the traditional dance pop and vocal power that Chung Ha has highlighted, was a creative restart for Chung Ha, and it wouldn't be the only thing that was reset. From her social media accounts, which were re-created from scratch and now finally run in part between her and her new label, to a new radio gig, to even renaming her fandom from "BYULHARANG" to "HAART" (a combination of Chung Ha's name and "start"), this seemed to be a new Chung Ha, one that was ready to forge her own path on her own terms. "EENIE MEENIE", for all its low-toned swagger (amplified by ATEEZ's Hongjoong, who features), still sends a message - one of choosing - or in Chung Ha's case - rechoosing - who she wants to be and what she wants to do as an artist. I think that's great, given that it seems her music moving forward will be a combination of her traditional (via B-side track "I'm Ready") and new styles.

The best part of all this is that Chung Ha has obviously not lost any of the respect or the connections that have made her one of the most well-regarded soloists in K-Pop. From TikTok and YouTube shorts with all kinds of well-known fellow artists to in-depth interviews where she talks honestly about what's changed, Chung Ha is out and about using every inroad she has to promote her new work. Despite her extensive time off, she doesn't seem to have lost a beat, proving that sometimes you need to step away and reset to know how best to move forward. I'll be looking forward to what comes next.

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