poppy; stayc

nov 17 2022

I typically don't cover Japanese releases, but hey, I did it for Loona, so I can do it for Stayc. "Poppy" is Stayc's first Japanese release and a really good Japanese debut, in my opinion. Just like Loona's "Hula Hoop," it infuses the group with a bright burst of energy after a disappointing Korean release.

I didn't hate their last release, "Beautiful Monster," but I just found it unforgivably boring and not really delivering what I had come to expect and enjoy from Stayc's music. Their previous music had excelled at sparse vocals paired with complex instrumentation, great production, and upbeat synthpop with just enough "experimental" elements to keep it interesting.

"Beautiful Monster" tried to take the group in a different direction, experimenting with a vocal heavy song and a slower/more "acoustic"/stripped down feeling. Personally, I don't love this direction and I don't love their vocals on this track. Nothing personal, they're great vocalists, but I think the style simply doesn't suit them. Sieun and Yoon have strong, piercing voices and this song's chorus relies on a high belt. It ends up sounding incredibly loud and kind of offputting with the way it's been mixed. The We Need Love bsides fall into the same category for me, which is the category of "Not bad, but just incredibly forgettable." On Apple Music (yes, I mooch off my parents' Apple Music family plan, you can stone me in the town square later), "Beautiful Monster" is their least streamed title track.

The Apple Music streams ranking goes ASAP > Stereotype > Run2U > So Bad > Beautiful Monster, in case anyone was curious.

That's all to say that "Poppy" feels like a comforting return to form. It blends Run2U's experimentation nicely with ASAP's catchy and repetitive chorus and slick production. It has interesting verses, a sparse yet catchy chorus that is augmented by its instrumental. If there's one thing I could criticize about this song, it's that while I love the verses and choruses separately, I think the way they've been merged together is a little awkward and sudden. It doesn't stop me from enjoying the song, but it did strike me on first listen. The transition into the second chorus sounds better, although I don't know if that’s because of the couple beats of silence before the chorus they added there or if it's just because you've gotten used to the song structure by that point.

Overall, this was a really good song and it makes me feel excited about Stayc's future music.

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