Currently, Snuper have become more popular in Japan than their native Korea. And while I’m happy for their success, this presents a problem when it comes to their music. While their Sweetune-produced k-pop material has been consistently fantastic, their j-pop sound feels worlds away. I’ve never really liked it when a group pursues such different styles for different markets, and even though I love Snuper, I’m not always down with the classic j-pop idol approach.
The guys made a sugary, frenetic splash in Japan with March’s Oh Yeah, and Stand By Me follows a similar template. The melody is a little more developed here, and the instrumental’s rock influences help give the song a welcome sense of heft — especially during its climactic moments. But the finesse usually given to the group’s vocal arrangement is missing. The guys adopt a more j-pop style of performance, which favors exaggerated vocals that feel like the audio equivalent to mugging for the camera. I’m sure it will satisfy the song’s target demographic, but it makes me miss the streamlined, layered approach of their Korean work.
But even with these issues, Stand By Me has a way of sweeping you up in its sentimental wave. The core of the song is infinitely stronger than Oh Yeah, and with different stylistic choices I could see it becoming quite majestic and affecting. The chorus has the potential to be an absolute knockout, punching forward with an anthemic heft the group hasn’t often explored. It’s just difficult to fully enjoy this Japanese diversion when Snuper have already found the absolute perfect collaborators in Sweetune.