STAYC hasn’t even been around for a year yet, and I can already tell they’re going to be a force to reckon with. They’re one of the rookies I seem to hear about the most, and they’re clearly gaining momentum with each and every release. They’ve also picked up THREE music show wins so far this week, which is an amazing accomplishment for such a young group. Though I haven’t been super drawn to their music so far, it’s obvious to me that they’re a group I should keep my eye on.
“Stereotype” sounds like a classic girl group song, and it reminds me of some K-pop tracks from the late second and early third generations. (Which isn’t a total surprise, because STAYC’s producer Black Eyed Pilseung has made hit singles for groups like SISTAR, Apink, and TWICE.) The arrangement is pretty smooth and gentle overall, prioritizing more feminine elements like that delicate flute sound and STAYC’s lovely vocals. And true to its title, it carries the important message of not wanting to be judged simply by your looks. Well actually, it seems like it’s about wanting people to both appreciate the effort you put into your appearance and look beyond it. The lyrics move a little too close to the idea of “I’m more than just a pretty face” for my liking – because it’s less relatable for us average people – but that’s ultimately not a big deal.
I read somewhere that “Stereotype” was actually a song STAYC was given before their debut, and therefore it was something they really wanted to show to their fans. It must be quite special to them, so I’m a little hesitant to be critical about something so meaningful… but I have to say, it doesn’t really do anything for me personally. I see how Black Eyed Pilseung really captured STAYC’s youthful essence, and I do think this song suits them well. However, it just doesn’t grab me and pull me in. Neither of STAYC’s other singles necessarily match my tastes, but they definitely have unique melodies and catchy hooks that I can easily recall. I currently struggle to remember anything about “Stereotype,” except for the “I’m a good girl” line.
The music video doesn’t really help my neutral feelings, either. First of all, I’ve never been that interested in the “high-teen” concept because I’m too old for it. And second, some of the locations and outfits remind me of a bunch of other girl group music videos – particularly TWICE and GFriend in their early days. I recognize a lot of K-pop groups are often drawing from the same pool of creativity, and there’s bound to be overlap at times. But in an ideal world, it would be great if everyone could have a music video and/or aesthetic that’s purely unique to them and not reminiscent of someone else. Especially for a group like STAYC, who’s done a really good job of standing apart from their potential competition so far. That being said, there’s one detail I really like: how the members have elaborate makeup on only one of their eyes. It’s a pretty cool visualization of the duality they express in the lyrics of “Stereotype,” and it adds a really nice touch.
We all know I’m a more performance-oriented person, and that definitely comes into play here. Though “Stereotype” kind of goes in one ear and out the other for me, it becomes much more dynamic and lively when I watch it paired with the choreography. Though it isn’t necessarily as eye-catching as “ASAP” – which truly had some perfect key point moves – it’s still highly engaging, and the movements match the lyrics quite nicely. (Like the mirror and reflection formations.) My one note is that I wish there was a highlight move to accompany the “I’m a good girl” line; it stands out so nicely in the song, but it’s kind of a throwaway moment here. But all in all, I think the dance is very entertaining.
MY OVERALL INTEREST LEVEL
(NOTE: My options for each category are “Love,” “Like,” “Neutral,” “Not My Style,” or “Dislike.” But I rarely dislike anything, so I’ll mostly be using the other four.)
Again, I don’t feel great about having a mostly ambivalent reaction to what’s obviously a significant moment in STAYC’s career. “Stereotype” is without doubt a good song, and I think it’s succeeded in what it was trying to do. But ultimately, it doesn’t feel like a bop to me in the way that STAYC’s first two singles did. I would like it better if it was a little more energetic and packed more of a punch. But regardless of what I personally think about “Stereotype,” I’m glad to see that it’s resonating with so many other people. I hope time will change my mind and help me get on board – but in the meantime, I’m still content to see the girls rising to new heights.
(“Knee Jerk Reaction” is a column I created to talk about comebacks or debuts when I don’t have a lot of time to write in-depth reviews. A knee jerk reaction is like an automatic response, so it’s a post about my initial thoughts on the song, the music video, and the performance if it’s available. Compared to my reviews, everything is more stream of consciousness and less analytical. And everything is 100% my own opinion!)
SOURCES: Featured image and music video belong to High Up Entertainment.