Fresh off of the K-CON Chicago 2022 high, STAYC marks the change of seasons with their third single album, WE NEED LOVE. Following their second mini album, YOUNG-LUV.COM, the girl group sheds the “Teen Fresh” concept to explore a different kind of sound. Black Eyed Pilseung, producers and founders of STAYC’s agency High-Up Entertainment, decided it was time for a change in pace and crafted a comeback to suit the group’s unique charm in earnest.
STAYC reveals that this comeback challenged the girls to feel new emotions and to think more deeply about the story they aspire to tell through their music. Coming from their last two title tracks, STEREOTYPE and RUN2U—oozing of self-confidence and being unapologetic of who they are—J mentions their new songs bring more emotional maturity this time around.
Amid the popularity of highly technical choreography and edgy concepts, STAYC is like a breath of fresh air with their youthful vocals and refreshing visuals. Nearly three years in, they continue to make waves in the K-pop industry with no sign of slowing down. Where they explore the core of youth, STAYC once more brandishes a fresh take on growing pains in their latest comeback.
WE NEED LOVE consists of four songs, all of a new flavor that can only be described as classically STAYC. The first B-side, I LIKE IT, is a reprieve from the tribulations of young love and simply reminds listeners to enjoy the moment as one lives it. The soothing melody of its guitar and percussion create the background music for a summer getaway with friends, as Yoon opens the song with a beach-bound mood.
The title track, BEAUTIFUL MONSTER, continues the story. Having risked it all for love, the lyrics sing of trouble in paradise as they wish for the courage to love the person who ails their heart the most. The highs and lows of such adoration are reflected in the pace change between verses. The acoustic pre-chorus distinguishes this song from STAYC’s past tracks, outlining Seeun’s angelic vocals to serve as the perfect beat break, leading to a powerful chorus.
Sustaining the melancholic tinge of the comeback, LOVE is a deceptively upbeat breakup song. It depicts a first heartbreak and the intense sadness that accompanies it. Sumin and Sieun round out the track by accepting their ill-fated love in the third verse, singing “don’t forget me, gaseumi ttwimyeon, nan sungane neol tteoollil geoya.”
(When my heart pounds, I’ll think of you at that moment.)
To top it all off, RUN2U’s reckless abandon in pursuit of love comes back as a remix as the album’s final track with an electric beat that zips through one’s bones. Where the original version embodies the rebellious spirit of youth, this take on the tune masterfully shifts the weight of its ardent lyrics and adds more beat changes in between verses. This gives the song a more cheerful disposition but never takes away the soulful vocals of the members. Transformed in its essence, it closes out the extended play on a high note, leaving listeners ready for a repeat.
To make bloom
Every component of WE NEED LOVE was made to be distinct from the group’s discography thus far. It’s no longer just about sounding precisely as they had recorded the song; it’s also about genuinely performing akin to a drama being acted out, as Sumin puts it. During production, the members observed the particularity of this comeback. It was more natural and it drew out their personalities as young women only beginning to learn more about the push and pull of love.
Compared to previous eras, STAYC’s styling this time is less embellished in accessories and fashion elements, with more emphasis placed on the features of the members to highlight the delicateness of young love. The beautiful monster rears in their all-white getups with colorful crochet accents; the theme of coming of age is still visible; and callbacks to the early 2000s are found in their denim outfits that exude nostalgia.
Famous South Korean dance group La Chica was brought on board to choreograph BEAUTIFUL MONSTER’s artistic routine. The group’s signature use of hand gestures and dynamic movements is evident all throughout, creating more interpretive storytelling. Contemporary elements that utilized blocking and formation also convey their message. Isa notes that in the past, they focused on looking secure in their movements. But this comeback’s focal points were found in the details of their dance, such as the fluidity in their motions, tactile choreography that parallels a hot-and-cold attitude, and prominent coordinated movements to paint a bigger picture.
Coming to fruition
For the members and the team behind WE NEED LOVE, it’s less about creating good K-pop songs and more about good music overall. As young idols, the passion they pour into every performance radiates with the dedication of each member to give their best to the audience and a love for what they do. Sadly, the album may mark the end of their “Teen Fresh” era. However, it opens the doors to the endless possibilities STAYC could explore in their music. While they traverse the roadmap to being fourth-generation icons, they will navigate the industry and adolescence as the tenacious team they are.
The collective has an authentic it-factor that pulls the audience to them, backed up by well-coordinated dance routines and commendable live singing. With a discography yet to miss the mark and the sheer talent that the girls possess, each comeback comes with the promise of success and recognition. As STAYC shines brighter with every song, their trademark tagline “STAYC girls, it’s going down” will be heard reverberating through the floor of every stage they take.