Review: Stellar – “Sting” Is A Delight

stellar sting

After a slew of “innocent” teasers that seemed to hint at some sort of lurid aegyo-sexual fetish comeback, Stellar returned this week with “Sting” and it is thankfully not what the teasers promised at all (the teaser images may work as pictures designed to pique curiosity but they probably would have made for a boring MV). Promisingly, “Sting” continues Stellar’s recent streak of great songs and smartly crafted videos through a mixture of gratifyingly buoyant music and bright, concise visuals.

While the song may not be as energetically charged as “Vibrato” or as sensual as “Mask,” “Sting” demonstrates that Stellar’s music deserves at least as much attention as their visual concepts seem to garner. Not overly sexual in the least, “Sting” sounds like the sort of song that one could easily blast during the early days of spring. The bouncy, light electronic riff marries nicely with the (maybe a touch too) subtle horns to create a cheery and inviting atmosphere which gives “Sting” a warmness and comfort that enjoyably plays against Stellar’s reputation for sexy concepts.  Thankfully, although the song does differ from Stellar’s past few singles, “Sting” retains the characteristics that has made the group’s last few singles work – namely a solid beat that one can easily dance along to, a decent hook and enjoyable vocals that don’t sound like they were tampered with too much in the studio. “Sting” doesn’t have the instant aural impact of “Vibrato” but its casual  upbeat sound makes Stellar’s latest comeback one that has a ton of replayability.

As they have shown over their past few music videos, Stellar exhibits a winking self-awareness of its own objectification in “Sting” that keeps the clip from being Just Another Sexy K-Pop Video. Junyool’s initial bubblegum sighting gives “Sting” a perfectly apt way of foreshadowing how Stellar plays with expectations in “Sting.” The prominent use of pastels in the group’s wardrobe, lighting and sets help brighten up Stellar’s comeback, making the video appear softer and less aggressive compared to some of the group’s previous efforts efforts that utilized hard florescent lighting (“Vibrato”) and softcore white lighting (“Marionette”). The subject of sexual objectification that has been the focus of Stellar comebacks over the past few years is very much a part of “Sting” but, as the group has done since “Marionette,” the topic is acknowledged in ways that seem to celebrate and critique it. On the one hand, there are plenty of shots of disembodied legs, feet, and hands that strongly hint at objectification. On the other hand, “Sting” frequently “breaks the fourth wall” of its own objectification/fantasy whether that be through showing a photoshoot (literally shot by a gazing, anonymous male photographer),  the white walled catwalk that looks a hell of a lot like a fashion show, or (my personal favorite) the use of mouse pointers – a clever modern nod to the way that the male gaze and clickbait often go hand in hand.

While simple acknowledgement of objectification doesn’t excuse it, the use of the group’s reputation, combined with the subversive tameness of the music, the innocently bright color palette of the video and the smart framing of Stellar themselves within the project, demonstrates a deft touch that successfully navigates the tricky waters between sexy and exploitative. Hopefully, one day the group’s current string of successful comebacks will be reflected on the charts.

 

 

Advertisements

9 comments

  1. Those mouse pointers are pretty brilliant–their use successfully shifted my viewpoint from being turned on to thinking critically about why I’m being turned on, which is quite something for a k-pop video (although I had a similar response to last year’s “Vibrato”). I love this group.

    1. It’s a really simple but genius way to implicate the viewer in the whole experience.

  2. One of the very few recent K Pop tracks I truly enjoyed. Well done, Stellar and keep up the good work. Here’s hoping that more people will give this group the credit that they deserve, musically.

    1. No lie, I am really starting to love this group.

      1. Kpoptartsarebestpoptarts · ·

        Starting to love them? I’ve been smitten since Mask came out. I actually was a tad disappointed in this song initially, but it is growing on me very nicely. It’s, well, fluffier than their other songs, but if that’s what it takes to get them more popularity I’m all for it.

        Someone on Reddit mentioned that Tarantino would probably love this MV. It’s a foot fetishist’s dream. Also, it seems like Junyool is really being pushed to the front in the MV and so far in the live performances. Not that I’m complaining – her bare shoulder outfits are devastating. Just seems like Minhee was always the focal point in their other songs where Junyool seems to have taken over.

  3. This is too cute.

  4. Oh, this is really cool too. Watch with your VR glasses. Well done, Stellar!

    1. Welp, time to invest in some VR.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: