Review

Song Review: GOT The Beat – Step Back

Got The Beat - Step BackSeveral years after launching their ambitious SuperM project, SM Entertainment has developed a similar strategy for their female artists. From what I can gather, Girls On Top will encompass multiple mix-and-match units. First up is GOT The Beat – a performance unit comprised of BoA, SNSD’s Taeyeon and Hyoyeon, Red Velvet’s Seulgi and Wendy, and aespa’s Karina and Winter. That’s an almost-unbelievable combination of talent. A powerhouse act like this deserves an equally momentous song, right?

Erm. SMent seems to have a different idea. Over the past couple of years, the vast majority of their artist’s music has become NCTified. They’ve found a winning formula and refuse to budge. And despite a host of behind-the-scenes talent (Bias List faves Yoo Young-Jin and Ryan Jhun among them), debut single Step Back flounders. More often, when K-pop agencies describe a track as “performance-based,” that’s code for the song itself becoming an afterthought. Attitude and presentation take precedence. That’s certainly the case with Step Back, and it’s a problem.

Honestly, these ladies deserve so much better. Apart from recent debuts aespa, they’ve all paid their dues to establish their place in an industry not always kind to women. I’m disappointed (yet unsurprised) that their track pits women against women. SuperM got the goofy-fun Jopping – a bombastic celebration of their talent and clout. Got The Beat are saddled with the worst kind of “cat-fight” cliché.

Song-wise, Step Back has its moments. The chorus thrives on classic Yoo Young-Jin vocal layering and adds needed punch. Otherwise, the arrangement doesn’t grow or build nearly enough. It’s a bit monotonous, even if the filtered vocal loop adds a cool sense of pomp. The ladies sell the material as best they can, wringing every ounce of drama from otherwise bland melody lines. In short, they’re far more captivating than Step Back and its familiar tropes.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.5

40 thoughts on “Song Review: GOT The Beat – Step Back

  1. Yeah I agree the song itself is… odd. But I kinda like it I think? 😅 Like their vocals are really selling the weirdness? Boa and Taeyon in the chorus and Wendy and Seulgi in that strange part before… Idk it actually sounds good in a hypnotic way. The clanging in the sound is giving me nightmarish flashbacks to P1Harmony’s Scared though 😂

    They sold it no doubt. Boa’s charisma was simply amazing really! I couldn’t keep my eyes off her! I didn’t bother to pay attention to the lyrics but the way it sounds overall is ok I guess. Maybe I’m getting used to the NCT wavelength after all XD

    Like

  2. “Step Back” tries to be badass. “Jopping” tried to be badass too, but I think it succeeded more because it had an element of fun. Fun is like the salt that makes the badass flavor stand out.
    I get that “Step Back” is a different lyrical subject matter than “cuz when we jumping and popping, we jopping”, but even Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend” is a more fun cat-fight than this.

    This feels rushed for the New Years concert. They definitely deserve more. Praying they get new material that better showcases their talents!

    Liked by 6 people

  3. For me, I feel like the melody on the song is really, really strong – it’s catchy but complex enough to not get boring. Also, everyone sell the song so well. Especially those high notes……

    But, what really nags me about this is the production on it. This kind of slide-y, headache-inducing bass synth that also underlines (and spoils) Loco’s verses, which is so high up in the mix here that I can’t properly listen to the choir sample. 7.5 for me too. (9, 5, 8, 8)

    Liked by 3 people

  4. “NCTified”, that’s exactly what I thought on my first listen. It sounds like one of their songs. There are moments I enjoy (such as the bridge) but overall this production and these lyrics don’t do such an iconic and talented crop of girls justice at all.

    Liked by 7 people

  5. there are definitely parts I enjoy about this song: the gregorian chants add some drama to the instrumental, especially towards the end of the song, and the women SELL the hell out of the song; their performance is as strong as ever.

    As much as this blog mentions the nct-fication of sm groups, I think that nct and aespa work as modern takes on the SMP sound from the past, and I’m glad that GOT are still carrying the sm legacy through their bizarre experimental sound.

    That said, I agree with you. I wish that their song had more pizazz and grandeur. the instrumental’s very sparse (despite the gregorian chants??) and far inferior to the “avengers”-style orchestral song that is jopping.

    and this doesn’t even mention the lyrics, or the lack of MV/ promotions, or how lackluster and sudden the promotions for this unit were, or the lack of Kenzie in this song 😭😭

    today, I learnt that yoo young-jin wrote the lyrics (unlike the previously assumed ryan jhun; he has his own history of misogynistic actions so I can’t blame people for blaming him), so that was a bummer, especially since he helped write the original Girls on Top. But ultimately, the biggest disappointment this project had was how it tarnishes the legacies of these women in kpop, and how it’s yet another shitty action that this big company can add to their (very checkered) past

    Liked by 7 people

    • jesus christ i didn’t realise the comment got so long. sorry for the text wall! I’ve been thinking about this song (and discussing it) a lot for the past few days so I’ve a lot of thoughts haha

      Liked by 1 person

    • You better be sorry, young man. If there’s one thing we don’t tolerate here, it’s walls of text! Less is more! Quality versus quantity! Where’s the beef?!? Now.. ..go reflect! 😛

      Liked by 2 people

  6. is this a thing? the Flanderization of SM? I feel like they’re in this mode of “nearly everything has to be weird/disjointed/experimental” it’s starting become kind of grating.

    Liked by 8 people

  7. If there’s one thing you can bank on in the music industry it’s the fact that any major release is going to get the remix treatment. K-Pop is no exception. There are several notable names when it comes to K-Mixes. Areia Creations, KOLDEJA *, etc.. Even big producers such as Shinsadong Tiger get in the game. While there are many people making remixes, only a few actually know what they’re doing. The rest all make mistakes with bad cuts/edits, poor EQ management, and general bad choices such as theme, direction, etc..

    * KOLDEJA takes on aespa “Next Level” and he nails it. He changed the entire progression, mixed in some Black Mamba and gave it a jazzy vibe. Extra Double-Plus Good, in my book.
    Ref: K:a:NL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5YSh_Bx6WA

    Another treatment is Mashups. Just as with remixes, the end result can be hit or miss depending on the creator, but there are some genuinely fantastic mashup maestros. Some of the better creators are TAK, Kim Dong-woo **, Miggy Smalls ***, etc.. Mashups usually involved blending multiple (3+) songs. Typically, you’ll only experience mashups in the wild at dance clubs because radio stations typically don’t want to risk law suits from agencies.

    ** Kim Dong-woo(김동우) introduces Hwasa to SISTAR by giving “TWIT” the fantastic instrumental from SISTAR’s “Give It To Me”. I honestly prefer this remix over the original; sorry Hwasa {ultra-sad-face-emoji}.
    Ref: K:H:T: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zq4f25LKOs

    *** Miggy Smalls takes a kitchen sink approach and gives us a schmedley from Itzy, BP, TWICE, Red Velvet, MMLD, and f(x), and while it can get chaotic and shift a bit, it’s a really fun piece.
    MS:A:M: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKyqm22I_Xg

    So why am I writing about remixes and mashups? Well, as I pointed out, above, both can be really entertaining, when done right! The first vibe I got when listening to GOT “Step Back” was that it was a really poorly constructed remix. The vocals are being smothered under the synth tracks, the little flourishes and percussive taps that are suppose to accentuate a piece end up removing continuity, and while I’m a fan of a lot of his work, I smell the involvement of SM’s Hitchhiker; which is not a good thing this time.

    All of this absolutely doesn’t matter. Why? Because it will be a big hit one way or another. Regardless, I’m surprised that some of the artists in GOT (no, I won’t say who) were actually okay with the final products. If I get to walk away with one chuckle, under my breathe, it’ll be, “Well, at least the named the song correctly!”

    Liked by 3 people

    • That Hwasa/SISTAR remix is so good. Thanks for the recommendation! As someone who didn’t know the original songs, it didn’t even sound like a remix.

      Speaking about remixes, I prefer this remix of Sticker (https://youtu.be/tIvcu_PRI1o ) to the original. Ironically, I found it from a comment that didn’t like it and thought it made the song uninteresting.

      I knew Miggy Smallz from the K/DA x BLACKPINCK mashup (https://youtu.be/SH2l0H_Rzxg ) on which Bekuh Boom commented, which must be really rewarding for the creator. I think it’s my favourite, maybe it’s easier because the songs have the same vibe (and producers in common).

      As for Step back, it’s a shame that the lyrics are questionable, and in parts awkward (how many times can you say “level” and “silly girl”), because I actually like it, even as someone who can’t listen to discordant/experimental SM songs (see Sticker and Savage).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, Remixes and Mashups are a guilty pleasure. Sometimes, if a song comes out that everyone is raving about, but it doesn’t click with me, then I’ll hunt down remade versions of it. Helps kill some of the FOMO vibes from not appreciating the original; if that makes sense?

        Other times, I’ll hunt down remixes simply because I absolutely love the original song and can’t get enough of it. A remix of an already loved song gives me new ways to keep appreciating some of my favorite ditties (* see end)

        As for GOT:SP, it really is a Step Back, isn’t it? I feel bad because I’m very familiar with each of the 7. I can’t imagine any of them are happy with the way it’s getting vulture’d by the community. SM did them all wrong.

        Your suggestions:
        – I generally don’t listen to boy bands, but I make exceptions for a few groups such as NCT x, Stray Kids, et al. That “Sticker” mix was a charmer.
        – HOLY CRAP! That K/DAxBP MU is phenomenal! I would’ve never caught this is the wild as I’m not a big BP fan, so thank you very much for the heads up. Leave it to Miggy.

        I could go all nutty and started pasting dozens of links to some really great mixes, but Nick told me to keep the links to a minimum or he’ll close my nose in a door so that when I sneeze, my head will explode. Okay, he didn’t really say that, but he’s thinking it, I JUST KNOW IT!

        * An example of a getting another way to appreciate an already good song is a Kim Dong-woo MU that took SNSD “You Think” (which I really liked) and weaved it with VIXX “Chained Up”. The end result speaks for itself.
        Ref: S:V:YT/CU: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKPiKPmiEmk

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        • I also like your last suggestion so I’ll explore Kim Dong-woo’s channel by myself. I wouldn’t want you to get confirmation of what Nick really thinks about too many links! It will also be a way to find out about songs I didn’t know.

          I’m used to listening to remixes of Western artists, especially since some remixes end up more well-known than the original songs, but I’ve never thought of looking for them in K-pop. Maybe there is somewhere a version of Savage that I enjoy!

          Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve been SM trash for the longest time, especially for the female acts. After two years of noise, “attitude” and “girl crush” in kpop, this pretty much sealed it for me. I mean, I can’t even count on my favourite artists to deliver a good pop song anymore? I’ve given up on expecting good tracks from anyone.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. “Jopping” grew on me because of how bombast and fun the entire song was. This, however, I don’t expect it to click as time passes. Such a shame because they had some of the best female performers and it was hyped up well.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am a fan of the SM tracks that others tend to hate (e.g. Sticker and Savage) but this straight up sounds it was recorded in a tin can. It feels like a random unit you’d get at a concert and should have stayed there.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. NCT music + Aespa dance style, they showed what SM looks and sounds like in the present to the T. Wish they added some twists and callbacks to every generation each of the girls was in instead of rhyming level with level 10x. Sad the lyrics overshadowed the talents in this one.

    Liked by 5 people

  12. Uhm. I won’t even call this is a song. Like it was a literal waste of my time that could have gone towards watching any other shitty youtube video. I hated it so much that I had to come here and rant about my hate

    Like

  13. okay, i have a different perspective on this combination….i’m not that ‘excited’ as i see many others are….before i ‘speak my peace on this,’ let me first say 2 things: 1. anything that BoA is a part of, it is destined to do very well, 2. i WILL support Girls On Top!….now, as to why i am not as ‘excited’ as many others….i really just don’t know what SM is doing here….as the creator of this video stated about SM’s first so-called Super Group, Super M, i was not very impressed….they made a huge splash in Korea, but not as much in the States….also, they had a few comebacks, but then have seemed to fizzle….is this what is going to happen with Girls On Top?….

    again, what is SM (and others that follow in this trend of creating sub-unit groups – ‘super groups’ within already established groups) doing….for one, why the hell are they not focused on bringing Girls’ Generation (my all-time favorite female k-pop group) back together for the very long-awaited reunion they all promised several years ago when they – in my opinion – basically broke up (don’t care about them saying they have not broken up or disbanded – when 3 of your members sign with another management agency, we all now see how difficult it is and will be to bring all 8 of them back together….we have not heard from GG in how long? – and please don’t mention Oh! GG, because that group has 5 of the 8 members, and we have not heard from them in several years as well)….

    second, with all the rumors of Red Velvet (i love Red Velvet) possibly disbanding, or not renewing their contracts, why is SM not focused on them as a group?….Oh, we (SM) will just ‘starve’ Red Velvet fans and just put Wendy and Seulgi with our second-proposed super group….

    lastly, aespa (i really like this group) just debuted a little over a year ago, and they are on fire!….so, instead of continuing their very hot streak and continuing to allow the ladies to bond as a group, we (SM) will just take two of the four members and promote them in our second-proposed super group….to me, this does not encourage togetherness very well within a group….what are Giselle and Ningning going to be doing while two of their members are off with another group?

    i honestly would rather see Girls’ Generation reunite and get back on top as Korea’s favorite female kpop group, and not stay away for years at a time (especially if they are still signed to create music together as a group)….i would much rather see Red Velvet standing strong as a group instead of making fans continue to wonder if the rumors surrounding them are true or not….and, i would rather see asepa continue to strengthen their status and bond as a group….

    even if ‘egg gets thrown on my face’ and Girls’ Generation, aespa, and Red Velvet all make comebacks as groups in 2022, it will still be a lot of activity going on and that means possible overworking and burnout for the idols….something SM (and many other kpop agencies) don’t seem to mind doing with their artists, in creating overworked and burnout situations…

    sorry if i do not seem as ‘excited’ as many others about this, but as i stated before, i WILL support this group because how could i not, when it is comprised of idols from three of my favorite SM female groups, and an idol who is iconic?….i just hope it all works out for everyone involved….

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  14. This was such a massive disappointment purely because of that outstanding lineup of talented women. In hindsight I shouldn’t have let myself get so hyped, knowing that SM would indubitably mess this up somehow, but wow. The lyrics and concept are particularly disappointing – normally I can ignore K-pop lyrics, but considering the lineup, the group name being named after BoA’s own Girls on Top, the whole “insulting other women to fight over a man” thing is so lame. All I can say is the members themselves definitely try their best to sell the song.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. What is going on with that chanting in the background? I felt like I stumbled into a cult ritual of some sort. This is definitely not to my taste and I find it rather unpleasant to listen to.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This is not girls on top but rather girls on top of other girls. The lyrics are definitely demeaning and the song itself felt so disjointed. The vocals and the rap were great though it felt so muffled, I don’t know something just feels wrong about the mixing. Maybe the instrumental wasn’t bombastic enough?

    Liked by 3 people

  17. My new years revolution this year as a a kpop fan is to listen to every kpop song that Nick writes about.

    If this is what I have in store, then someone please talk me out of it

    Like

  18. Wow I thought this discourse but a couple of thoughts that occurred to me.
    Yes Nct-ification but this beat is SUPER similar to Don’t Call Me.
    specifically the way vocal sample chop. Which if I remember, was a BOA song she gave to Shinee.
    So I feel like something like this involving BOA was inevitable.

    I think the lyrics are problematic…but it’s funny how rarely they’re the major focus of this discourse. but it seems to be the main point here.

    I thought the high notes were fire. I think vocal performance wise, this is a great way to start out 2022. I just hope SM can pull it all together for fully knock out songs the rest of the year.

    Would love to see this same configuration get stronger material. But I love how the rock it on this. Talent show stuff.

    Like

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