Since her solo debut in 2017, Chungha’s popularity has steadily climbed. She’s arguably become the most successful female soloist in this generation of idol pop, with every title track lodging itself in the charts for months at a time. With this in mind, I’ve always felt left out from the party. Beyond a song here or there, her music just hasn’t connected with me. However, that changes with the release of “Stay Tonight“, a song that perfectly crystallizes Chungha’s appeal while offering a groovy burst of dancefloor drive.
As a performer known as much for her dance skills as her vocals, Chungha’s music demands a certain level of rhythm. It should unfold the way that a good piece of choreography does, and “Stay Tonight” understands this. From the first verse, it’s committed to its percolating groove, beckoning you with 90’s house beats, atmospheric electronics and a subtle hint of disco guitar. In this way, “Stay Tonight” seems to be taking its cues from the success of Western artists like Dua Lipa, and this is a perfect road-map for Chungha. Refreshingly, the song never takes a step back in tempo or intensity. Rather than try to be a million things to a million people, it narrows its focus and succeeds on the strength of that consistency.
If “Stay Tonight” falters in any way, it’s from the lack of a killer hook. The instrumental is beguiling, but a mammoth chorus would have put the track over the top. The verses’ slinky structure compliments both Chungha and the track as a whole, and that sense of movement carries through into the chorus, which opts for a more stripped-back arrangement. I think this approach is effective, but the hook almost needed an extra piece, something that would move it from cool and aloof to euphoric and enveloping. Even so, “Stay Tonight” is an excellent match for Chungha’s strengths, and yet another case for her becoming this generation’s answer to BoA.
IATFB says: I disagree with TBL that what this was missing was a gigantic chorus. I think that part of it was fine, especially the industrial switch. However, what made me question just how much I enjoyed it was the ill-timed pauses that seem to interrupt that constant sense of movement, which I thought was an odd choice for a song like this that seems to thrive on exactly that. Still, I get the feeling this will grow on me because long sections of it are engrossing.