Surprising no one, BTS have conquered Japan alongside every other global music market. This has been achieved through a combination of Japanese re-recordings and original material. Oddly, their trio of original J-pop songs (For You, Lights and now Stay Gold) share a sound that’s downright toothless compared to their Korean work. Much of their global appeal has hinged on how “authentic” they’re viewed, and generic material like this directly contrasts that image.
Like most Big Hit singles of the past two years, Stay Gold was partially composed by producers Melanie Fontana and Michel “Lindgren” Schulz. Last year, I included them in my top ten producers of 2019, and I’m beginning to regret that decision. I was blinded by the perfect trifecta of Crown, Boy With Luv and Run Away. Something must have been in the water back then, because their 2020 work has been a complete and utter downgrade. I mean… On? Can’t You See Me? Puma?!?
In the context of these ambitious but disappointing releases, Stay Gold feels like a shoulder shrug. The song hinges on a repetitive chorus that becomes mind-numbingly plodding the longer it’s repeated. BTS’s performance lacks the rhythmic heft to make a track of this genre work, rendering Gold’s attempts at emotion lifeless and insincere. There’s a sappiness laced throughout the entire thing, and that sentiment — coupled with generic production and inert melody — makes Stay Gold a real chore to get through. It’s miles away from the daring, rambunctious BTS I came to love during their debut era. Everything about this feels rubber-stamped by a committee of people who have more interest in their bottom line than actual music.
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