Song Review: Beautiful Monster by STAYC

Wow. Where do I begin with this one?

STAYC has consistently released strong title tracks since their debut. I was, and still am, an avid fan of So Bad. ASAP won me over with its damn catchy chorus. Stereotype was an incredible follow-up, and RUN2U is no slouch either. Amidst such a strong run of singles, however, Beautiful Monster still manages to stand out, sounding quite unlike any other STAYC title we’ve heard before.

Hooks
While the verses aren’t exactly memorable at face value, what saves it is the fact that every member of STAYC has an extremely unique vocal timbre. They stylize their singing and make it very unique to them. Hence, the verses still work, even though I don’t necessarily remember them in my head afterward. However, I can acknowledge that not every part of the song has to be memorable to be successful. Could it be a bit stronger? Certainly, but it isn’t lacking to the point where it substantially weakens the song’s strengths.

Things start getting good when the pre-chorus hit. Its melody is quite memorable. The best part about it is that its last note leaves an unresolved feeling, acting as a gripping transition into the song’s chorus when the melody resolves itself. I’m not sure of the specifics, but it sounded a bit like a 7th chord? Whatever it was, it makes the chorus much more effective because it was as if the wrong was set right.

Undoubtedly, the chorus is strong, launching the song into soaring heights with Yoon’s both powerful yet emotional vocal delivery. I don’t think I can get tired of that chorus anytime soon. The last few lines of the chorus are somewhat unconventional, deciding to finish with ‘oohs’ rather than actual words, but I think it works, especially after a couple more listens.

However, the chorus alone doesn’t make the song magnetic. While the melody is strong, I’ve heard stronger melodies. Even so, I asked myself why I still gravitate to this song so much?

I then realized that part of the song’s major charms is the emotions imbued into singing it. Yoon was the absolute epitome of this, and it makes the chorus unforgettable to me. It was almost a cry of pain and vulnerability. Sieun finishes the chorus off with a more resigned tone. Yes, she knows that whoever she refers to in the song is a ‘monster’, but her love for him won’t allow her to let go. Indeed, ‘love is ooooo’: unexplainable and illogical at times, but it is what it is.

There aren’t many K-pop girl group songs where the emotions are strong in it are strong enough to act as a hook, but I believe that Beautiful Monster is one of them.

9/10

Production
Beautiful Monster is somewhat of an anomaly among most K-pop songs. Its production is minimalistic, but it doesn’t feel unfinished. It has a western sing-song vibe, almost Taylor Swift-esque, but it still feels like a K-pop song. Seems that I’ll have to write a bit more than usual for this section.

Having Black Eyed Pilseung as your in-house producer is honestly a huge advantage. He is quite the industry veteran, having made some of the biggest 3rd generation K-pop hits (Early Twice anyone?). His skill is on full display in Beautiful Monster.

The transitions are not overdone and very effective, making the whole song feel cohesive and polished. The production was clear and intentional; which parts to highlight, which parts to strip down, which parts to build up, you can name it. The actual choices were excellent too because they left the song feeling dynamic, interesting, and quite unlike any other K-pop song I’ve heard. I’ve been complaining about the lack of dynamics for every single review I have done so far in this blog, but this one ticks the box a million times over.

I don’t always like the use of a clapping sample, but it fits well with the acoustic guitar, and it makes the song feel intimate and raw, linking nicely to the song’s lyrics.

As usual, the member’s voices are splendidly mixed into the track. I think STAYC has among the best vocal mixing among all K-pop groups, because holy-moly, they always sound so clear and raw yet somehow polished? I have no idea how Black Eye Pilsung does it, but he sure is very good at making the girls sound great. It helped create the song’s more intimate vibe.

I can go on and on, but I won’t bore you and stop right here. In summary, the production is GREAT. If there is anything I’m complaining about, it would probably be the fact that there isn’t a proper outro to the song, but I love it so much that I don’t think I can lower it from a perfect score.

10/10

Vocal Delivery
Seeing as the song has no rap, I’ll remove it from the criteria to fairly assess the song.

As I’ve said in the first section, the girls do a splendid job at delivering the song. It has greatly contributed to why I find the song so magnetic and beautiful. Yoon really has a special voice, powerful, but at the same time vulnerable. Quite rare in K-pop.

STAYC is indeed a vocal group, but leans heavily more on style and not technique. But because their tones are so unique, and they always execute their lines with flair, they make it work for them. Beautiful Monster might just be my favorite vocal performance from STAYC, not just from Yoon, but from all the members. Special shoutout to J in particular, who seems like she isn’t forcing her voice and is instead using a more natural way of singing unlike in some of their other title tracks.

10/10

Final thoughts
I don’t know if Beautiful Monster will have good longevity, but at least at the moment, I think it is one of my favorite tracks this year. The emotive vocal delivery and the minimalist and polished production will not be forgotten. Most of all, it certainly stands out in the sea of K-pop songs out there. STAYC never misses!

9.5/10


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