STAYC may still be on the cusp of their nascent career, but the six-member girl group has already cemented their status as one of the best fourth-generation groups K-pop has to offer. They burst onto the scene with the unmistakable electropop excellence that was their debut single “So Bad”, and later they peaked with the beloved viral hit “ASAP” in April. Trying to get back to those heights might turn out to be a daunting trail for most, but STAYC made it seem like a cinch.
In the manner of STAYC, the K-pop group set the bar same above with the release of their first mini album, ‘Stereotype’. While the title might suggest otherwise, this four-track mini album is undeniable proof of STAYC’s unwavering determination to break the mold of average pop songs with a project of sheer auditory bliss that proves they are anything but stereotypes.
As we bid farewell to the edgy sounds and visuals of âASAPâ and âSo Bad,â STAYC introduces listeners to a whole new side of the eclectic girl group, as they embark on a journey brimming with tender melodies and honeyed vocals. âOur previous albums have focused on who STAYC was and what we were good at, while this first mini album contains messages and social themes,â Sumin said of their intentions for ‘Stereotype’ at a online showcase for its release, as translated by Soompi.
Among the unique offerings on ‘Stereotype’, it’s no surprise that the immediate star is its title track of the same name. The âsocial messages and themesâ that STAYC spoke about are most evident in this piece, which invites listeners not to judge a book by its cover: “It’s just the surface of me / Oh why, oh why? / Don’t judge me with your prejudiced eyes “. It’s not the most revolutionary take, but compared to the girl-crushing concepts of other fourth-gen girl groups (which usually always focus on the outside image), it’s a nice change of pace. .
On ‘Stereotype’, STAYC exudes pure confidence over a layer of mellow, sickly pop melodies, woven with notes of future bass and flute-like synths – it’s clear why this song was chosen to lead the mini album. . It forgoes the tried and true formulas for the pronounced K-pop choruses and hooks, which are often marked by substantial sound fluctuations that can sometimes seem out of place, adopting a softer but more consistent sound. Here, ‘Stereotype’ strikes the perfect balance between the slow-burning addiction of ‘ASAP’ and the immediacy of ‘So Bad’, coming together to create their most impactful title track to date.
But the brilliance of the mini-album ‘Stereotype’ does not abate even as its first single draws to a close – take, for example, the serious ‘I’ll Be There’. Although it starts out as a perfectly straightforward pop ballad number, with its calm and unpretentious guitar riffs, but quickly gives way to poignant vocals and a chorus that explodes with pure emotion.
With that chorus kicked in, âI’ll Be Thereâ becomes one of the best demonstrations of STAYC’s vocal abilities and, more importantly, tonal variety. Using the intricacies of graceful high notes (thanks to lead singer Si-eun) and sleek, low raps (none other than maknae J), and everyone in between, the six members use their strengths to deliver a raw message of unrequited love: “I’m going to stay like this / Oh, I’ll be there / Oh, you’re the only one for me that’s clear.”
What is a project that aims to demystify âstereotypesâ without a little musical experimentation? STAYC tries out the once-trendy tropical house genre. While venturing beyond their signature sound can be as risky as it is rewarding, ‘Slow Down’ possesses a familiarity, but with a touch of freshness, that keeps it from being just another filler track. A well-pronounced rap verse and a catchy song-like outro are the icing on the cake of this understated gem.
âComplexâ tops this record on a literal high note, delivering the full range of STAYC’s vocal range on a mellow bed of groovy bass and delicate guitar. This track is much more laid back than the other tracks on ‘Stereotype’, but it’s a good closing piece. The rising belts and buttery harmonies of the group take center stage in this R&B hymn, which recalls the hits of the early 2000s. However, its piece de resistance is none other than the ad-libs of Sieun, who at the very end hits a falsetto high which is so close to a whistle, and demonstrates the budding raw talent of STAYC.
âWe tried a lot of different things in our signature sound,â the ‘Stereotype’ group said, a testament to the fact that experimentation doesn’t always end in a misstep. With ‘Stereotype’, STAYC not only defies the expectations of girl group music, but sets the stage for a bright future through what has become their best release to date. It’s clear that the six-member group is one of the forerunners in the race to the top as one of the best fourth-generation K-pop groups.
- Release date: September 6
- A record company: Height entertainment