Song Review: NiziU – Step and a Step

Shortly after their formative survival series concluded, JYP’s NiziU soared to the top of Japanese charts. They’ve been a fixture there for months, which only goes to show how powerful certain agencies are. I mean, the girls hadn’t even made their official debut until now! As with most survival series-spawned groups, it didn’t matter if NiziU’s music was any good. If pre-debut Make You Happy had been performed by an act from a lesser agency, I doubt whether it would have had much commercial appeal at all.

Now the girls have delivered their first official release with Step and a Step. This title alone makes me giggle. It’s such odd phrasing! And true to form, the track capitalizes of NiziU’s cuter side. It’s a song well-suited to the Japanese market, though the execution leaves something to be desired.

Having watched each episode of the Nizi Project, I’m aware that there are a handful of great vocalists within this group. However, there are moments during this performance that border on unlistenable. Plenty of Japanese idol music utilizes hyper-affected vocal delivery, but robust instrumentals and arrangements usually compensate. With Step and a Step, the girls’ voices are front and center, meaning we have no trouble hearing the good… and the bad. The song’s chorus and post-chorus have a nice drive to them, and a bit of layering is certainly welcome. However, the pre-chorus is almost unbearably discordant. If the producers are intent on this style of singing, they definitely need to mix it better. Meanwhile, the verses are sprightly and fun, and a great rap bridge reveals sass and personality that should have been used more frequently throughout.

 Hooks 8
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 6

12 thoughts on “Song Review: NiziU – Step and a Step

  1. There’s plenty of talent in the group, but this song and its mixing are proverbial cinderblocks tied around NiziU’s ankles. It’s a total flop in my book, but I think they still have a bright future ahead of them. At least Twice isn’t going to get saddled with this kind of stuff anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Idk, I like the vocal production, something exciting about how “off” it is. There’s something about how over sung and underproduced it is that feels very intentional – knowing how coached vocals on a JYP production often are.
    I’m finding enjoyment in their voice on repeated listens, it sounds a little more off the cuff and personal than the “perfect” aesthetic. Both great.

    the rap portion really clued me that the vocal production wasn’t a mistake. I like it!


  3. Yeah, I was a bit disappointed with the outcome because I saw some great potential for the group. I was expecting something similar to Twice’s ‘Knock Knock’ or ‘What Is Love’ but with a more complex instrumental (Idk why but I feel like j-pop songs have more detailed instrumentals than k-pop songs). Pretty cool music video tho.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I swear I thought they already had debuted.

    In any case, it sounds like a song I have a dozen times before already, except this time in Japanese, and the rap is in the bridge not 2nd verse.

    This is what I wrote this morning “There are a few voices in there that are so honking on the nasal sound, its not pleasant.” And then I ended it there.

    But since you mentioned it, yes the vocal production seems highly suboptimal, maybe because no amount of vocal spackle could plaster over some of these bad notes. Do the producers not hear it? This is basic pitch correction. And then there is the nasal timbre, but first let’s start with competent, contemporary pitch correction. I feel like Johnny the youtuber on his regular kpop pitch rant. Hi, how are you, … … great!

    Pfft, what does it matter. For one, I am not the target demographic, even if I knew how or where to buy jpop. For two, my humble opinion, kids these days don’t care if their idols can actually sing. (ooh snap)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. About the pre chorus, thats sung by Nina and Ayaka, and then by Maya and Ayaka, with Ayaka singing the latter part both times. I dont see any problem with how Nina and Maya sing their parts, since theyre both quite good vocalists, so i assume youre talking about Ayaka.
    The thing about Ayaka is… thats her natural voice. It isnt forced, it isnt taught, all the members are instructed to sing in the correct manner. Shes been singing nosaly since the beginning, and it actually got better and clearer, so its not really something to blame the producers for.
    I personally loved the song, although the first beginning of verses had to kind of grow on me. I actually cried to the song multiple times, since theyre singing it with the intention of comforting people who worked hard and feel overwhelmed. It was also written with one of the members in mind, who wasnt able to join the debut due to health issues.


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