[Review] STAYC are capable of more than generic “ASAP”

STAYC were my favorite girl group debut of 2020, and that’s off the strength of a single song. “So Bad” — as many Black Eyed Pilseung tracks tend to be — was a total grower, and effortlessly wove retro synth trends into a quintessential K-pop sound. STAYC’s diverse set of vocal tones also helped their music stand out. Alas, new single “ASAP” feels like a small step backward, embracing a more generic style when the girls could have built upon “So Bad” with something fresh and daring.

I fully anticipate this song to grow on me, but it’s starting several paces behind its predecessor. As expected, “ASAP” is another Black Eyed Pilseung production, which guarantees a certain level of polish. But, I don’t think it draws upon STAYC’s strengths. Like too many tracks in this wheelhouse, “ASAP” succumbs to a clipped vocal delivery that favors short exclamations over melodic turns. This approach is catchy, but a little goes a long way. When both the verse and chorus follow this style, I can’t help but long for an oasis of melody to create a sense of dynamic structure and growth. This briefly arrives during the song’s bridge, but I would have rather heard “ASAP” graft its catchy chorus onto stronger verses.

On the plus side, tracks like this tend to be total earworms. Even after a few listens, the hook is rattling around in my head. I’m not sure I want it there, but “ASAP” has definitely made its mark. The second verse also leverages a few satisfying synth textures, recapturing some of that “So Bad” magic. The potential is still there, but I think STAYC are capable of more than this.

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