Boy group BIGFLO debuted in 2014 with an off-the-wall, Block B-esque sound that incorporated many alternative musical influences into their otherwise straightforward brand of k-pop. Songs like Delilah and Bad Mama Jama painted the group in an interesting light, but that goodwill began to erode as BIGFLO lost and gained members, taking long hiatuses between releases.
Stardom (스타덤) arrives as a reinvention of sorts. Armed with three new members, the track is produced by Brave Brothers, who hasn’t crafted a song for a boy group in quite some time. It’s an aggressive statement from the start, pounding forward with a trumpet-like synth and thundering beat. The trap-on-steroids production gives Stardom a dramatic rumble, but it’s not a whole lot of fun. From its English hook to the attitude-fueled verses, the song comes across as a vehicle for the group to prove their swagger and conviction rather than an actual display of their potential.
This isn’t to say that Stardom is poorly performed, because the guys do the best with the material that they’re given. But the repetitive hooks lack a real sense of melody, perched awkwardly between hip-hop and straight up military chant. For a song so intent on the power of will and charisma, Stardom is content to check off a number of k-pop cliches rather than break new ground. And while this approach results in a short-term burst of energy, it’s not the kind of sound that can build (or rebuild) a career.