While 2020 wasn’t necessarily a great year for all of us, no matter how many times I say it (and remind ourselves), there were still some shining glimmers of hope in the K-pop community. Some bands disbanded, some companies had to fold under, but others persevered, and 2020 became a year where debuts kept pumping out one by one.
STAYC is one of those debuts, coming from High Up Entertainment, a company founded by the producer duo Black Eyed Pilsung (and I know you’re thinking about some way that formed from Black Eyed Peas… that’s irrelevant, lol). The duo is a huge force in K-pop, having produced hits for the likes of TWICE via “TT” and CHUNG HA for “Roller Coaster”. Following the likes of Shinsadong Tiger and Brave Brothers, the pair formed their own executively-produced group. And the hype is real for STAYC, with two actresses already on the team, and their previews showcasing a group filled with visuals… it isn’t hard to believe they can go big.
Their first effort, appropriately acronym’d like the Korean-English way it is, “Star To A Young Culture“, looks to make these girls stars to, well, the younger culture. But is this teen-pop girl-group actually accessible to everyone including an oldie second-gen K-pop stan like myself, or is it merely just kiddy fodder? Read on!
“STAYC girls! It’s going down!”
There’s really just no denying how much I love this song. I discovered this far too late, having heard it right at the beginning of the year; I was never one to stan or give rookie groups a try unless there was some form of hype and for me it wasn’t quite there. However, “SO BAD” has done everything to prove to me that there really is charm in debut tracks, especially one produced by the same guys who did basically a chunk of TWICE’s early works. In “SO BAD”, that production quality is put at the highest level, opting for a futuristic dance-pop sound that has techno written all over it, which somehow just feels at home with the girls’ amazing vocals. It’s at the chorus where things just blend so beautifully for what feels almost like an epic journey into space. And can we talk J’s deep vocals??? HELLO??? She said hi! Never has being so bad felt so good; and boy was it better late than never. ⬛
“LIKE THIS” accompanies the single to give us more of STAYC’s charms; this time we’re opting for a higher-pitched synth sound that um… is that not just Wave Racer?! I love it already. It doesn’t quite have the oomph or epic feel that “SO BAD” has, but “LIKE THIS” has charms all on its own. With its 8-bit electro sound that, yes, sound completely like the ‘Bubble Wrap’ of Wave Racer music (and perhaps, just a stretch, that of TWICE’s “LOOK AT ME”), meshed with the hip-hop pop vibes, the instrumental blends together so wonderfully… you almost wonder how that works because separately, they’re vastly different. The vocals are also delivered fantastically, with props to J and Sumin for going hard in their rap segments and Sieun giving all those notes. I like this… I like this a lot. ⬛
STAYC, girls, it is going UP from here!
What a fantastic release. I’m pleasantly surprised because the production quality for the two tracks is top-notch, though I can’t say it’s all too surprising considering it is from the same guys who carried SISTAR to further stardom from the start of their own producing careers with “Touch My Body”. It certainly has a youthful appeal to it but there’s elements here that have me dancing for joy; “SO BAD” and “LIKE THIS” are slightly different songs compared between each other but they both separately have charms that are catchy and enjoyable.
I definitely recommend this, even if you’re not of the ‘young culture’. It’ll certainly make you feel young again.
MUST-LISTEN: SO BAD, LIKE THIS
For more STAYC reviews, visit the archive!