After quickly securing a place at the top of the K-pop girl group pack, STAYC are following in the footsteps of their seniors by embarking on a Japanese career. J-pop output from K-pop acts has been decidedly mixed over the past few years, far from the consistent discographies crafted by artists like SNSD, After School, SHINee and TVXQ. But, STAYC have played things safe by sticking with their original composers Black Eyed Pilseung for Poppy.
Despite this familiar collaboration, Poppy borrows from J-pop tropes. Its quirky chorus isn’t miles away from the work of Yasutaka Nakata, though it’s painted with a much more mainstream brush that’s in keeping with K-pop’s international aspirations. Fans who were disappointed with the slower tempo of this summer’s Beautiful Monster (myself included) will appreciate Poppy’s chirpy electronic beat. It’s nice to hear Black Eyed Pilseung up their energy again, and their musical hallmarks are all over the song’s percolating verses.
From here, Poppy bursts into a repetitive chorus that’s sure to divide opinion. I’m on the edge, teetering closer to appreciation than annoyance. The hook has potential to grate and may do so over the next few weeks, but for now I find it to be dumb fun. It’s well-produced and just strange enough to capture attention. A strong power note during Poppy’s climax adds depth to this simple refrain and the driving energy of the track helps smooth over its sense of novelty. I’m still (impatiently) waiting for another So Bad, but this works well as a Japanese debut.