In a recent interview, one of NewJeans‘ songwriters revealed that the members’ young ages played a pivotal role in her creative process for their newest release, Get Up.
Singer-songwriter Erika de Casier is all over NewJeans latest mini album, with credits on four hit tracks: “New Jeans,” “Super Shy,” “Cool With You,” and “ASAP.” Alongside topping the charts in South Korea, the EP recently debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart — an incredibly impressive feat for any group, especially this soon after debut.
For de Casier, writing for NewJeans was unfamiliar territory in more ways than one. Interestingly, Get Up was the first project she wrote for that wasn’t her own work. She described the experience as liberating, explaining, “It was really freeing to write for another artist, because it lets you put yourself aside in another way.” But, as a 33-year-old woman, Erika de Casier didn’t just want to put herself aside for the sake of creativity — it was also an important part of her endeavour to look out for the NewJeans members.
While all of de Casier’s songs on Get Up are distinct, they share a common thread: youthful, teen spirit. The first track, “New Jeans,” for example, includes call-and-response lyrics reminiscent of playground chants. Talking about how she came up with the lines, de Casier said they “kind of remind me of those games that you play when you’re a kid in the courtyard? Like a playful song to bring people together.”
New hair, new tee / NewJeans, you and me
— “New Jeans” lyrics
Similarly, “Super Shy” takes a dive into de Casier’s own adolescent memories. Explaining her thought process, she says she asked herself, “When I was a teen, what was I thinking about?” That led her to remember that she was very shy and didn’t want to talk to the popular peopleat school. De Casier describes the thought behind the song as “very innocent.”
I’m super shy, super shy / But wait a minute while I make you mine, make you mine
— “Super Shy” lyrics
For Erika de Casier, these themes were very intentional. “When writing for NewJeans, we knew that they’re young girls,” she explained. As such, her songwriting team “had a lot of conversations about how we didn’t want the lyrics to be super explicit.”
We just wanted it to be for them, because it’s their songs.
— Erika de Casier
Back when NewJeans released one of their first songs, “Cookie,” their CEO Min Hee Jin soon came under fire over the song’s lyrics. Many argued that the wording was suggestive and highly inappropriate for a group made up of minors, pointing out that in the English-speaking world, “cookie” is often used as a euphemism for a woman’s private parts.
Looking at my cookie, the scent alone will make you see / You can’t stop at one bite with me… If you want it, you can get it / If you want it, let me hear you say you want it more
— “Cookie” lyrics
Their agency, ADOR, was quick to respond. In a statement, they accused critics of harbouring an “underhanded motive” and implied that those calling out the lyrics didn’t have the members’ best interests in heart. The situation prompted even more discussion on whether idols as young as NewJeans’ maknae Hyein (then just 14 years old) should debut. Recently, on IU’s Palette, Hyein maturely expressed that she doesn’t generally mind people bringing up her young age, explaining, “It depends on the situation.”
Erika de Casier admits that she hadn’t listened to much K-Pop at all before HYBE asked her to write for NewJeans, so it’s unclear whether she knew about the “Cookie” controversy. Regardless, the members’ ages were a keen focus for her. When asked whether her insistence on avoiding “mature themes” was a way to “[watch] out for these younger girls,” de Casier said that was “definitely” her intention.
What we know now from how younger artists were treated in the ‘90s and beginning of the 2000s, how Britney Spears was treated, and even Justin Bieber more recently… There are some things that just weren’t right.
— Erika de Casier
Drawing parallels from what young stars went through during her own childhood, Erika de Casier explained, “I think with that knowledge, we could create a more safe space for the new artists today, which I think is really cool.“