It’s so fun when an unexpected or unknown K-pop group surprises you in a good way. Prior to googling their name (which immediately brings up Upper Iowa University), I couldn’t tell you anything about UiU besides the fact that the stylization of their name looks cute (or naughty, depending on how you look at it). It turns out these letters stand for “Untact Idol Unit,” which is… incomprehensible. And, UiU was formed through a university’s survival show. Not Upper Iowa, thankfully.
More importantly, digital single Starlit is a bit of a bop. It succeeds in the way many of my old-school K-pop favorites do, which isn’t surprising given its pedigree. This is the work of producer Nam Gisang, notable for crafting hits for 2nd/3rd-gen groups like Girl’s Day, Dalshabet and Beat Win. He hasn’t been consistently active since 2016, making Starlit a Sweetune situation, where a beloved, long-lost producer proves their skill in a marketplace that has unfortunately moved on. And just like RoaD-B’s Nonstop, I don’t see Starlit having any surprising chart success. But, it sure is nice to hear a song like this in 2022!
Immediately, I was struck by how satisfying Starlit‘s vocal arrangement is. Its full, propulsive chorus is the result of letting your K-pop groups sing — using their voices as a focal point rather than a cheap accessory. The song itself may be a little uneven. The verses and bridge could use some tightening to make the final product really sparkle. But, every time the chorus comes around I’m whisked off to a glorious musical universe that K-pop delivers like no one else. More of this, please! And Nam Gisung, please don’t be a stranger. The industry needs talent like yours.