STAYC aren’t just a run-of-the-mill debut group. They arrive bolstered by producers Black Eyed Pilseung, and are the first act signed to their new agency High-Up Entertainment. Black Eyed Pilseung have been responsible for quite a few major K-pop hits, including songs from Twice, Chungha and Apink. So, have they saved their best material for their own girl group?
So Bad arrives right as K-pop’s retro trend is in full swing, offering its own version of that sound. Fueled by a bright synth arpeggio and insistent kick, the verses deliver the kind of atmospheric drive we’ve grown accustomed to these past few months. Their structure isn’t particularly melodic, but the girls hit us with plenty of attitude right off the bat. I’m particularly drawn to the group’s diverse set of vocal tones. There are a few lower-toned moments within the track, which hasn’t been all that common within this generation of girl groups. This variance gives the track a jolt, ensuring that it doesn’t feel too samey.
So Bad’s chorus brings in a shuffling trip-hop beat that helps distinguish it from similar retro efforts. The hook has a simple sing-song appeal that fits right within Black Eyed Pilseung’s wheelhouse. There are times I would have brought the pitch down a bit, but this is the kind of chorus that works its way into your head whether you like it or not. So Bad isn’t perfect, but it offers a glimpse at what could become a very promising discography. It will be interesting to see if STAYC continue down this retro path with future releases, and if Black Eyed Pilseung’s sought-after production touch becomes exclusive to them.