#TBT – KARA’s “STEP” Remains A Complete Joy

kara step

Admittedly, it’s impossible for me to not be biased when it comes to KARA’s “STEP.” And I’m not talking about biased in an “Well, everyone has an opinion, music is subjective maaaaaaaaaannnn” sort of way. I’m talking about the sort of bias that is unabashedly present and completely shameless. The sort of bias that causes every dog owner to swear up and down the block that they have the bestest, smartest, sweetest dog in all the land. “STEP” is my K-Pop puppy.

What is still striking about “STEP” (the song that, more than any other, kicked off my own interest in K-Pop) is how it perfectly creates an almost embarrassingly manufactured happiness out of sheer glitz. No single element stands out as amazing or even that great. The synth riff becomes catchy due to repetition but it’s not instantly memorable on its own. The hook is basic. There’s not one moment of actual singing that comes close to being breathtaking. And yet, somehow, the whole ends up being so much more than the sum of its parts. The beat, working in tandem with the hook, goes from being merely repetitious to being dumb-pop magic (in the best way possible). KARA’s eye-blindingly bright wardrobes, which seems to feature every color not found in nature, mirrors the music’s own lack of groundedness quite well and helps elevate the whole music video to even greater heights of pop fun. Lastly, while the vocal performances themselves may not be much to write home about, the song’s construction allows each member to shine and helps prevent “STEP” from leaning too hard on its hook and its riff. The transitions from the group’s preface to the rap break, followed by Nicole’s moment (with guest appearances from Hara and Jiyoung) and then Gyuri and Seungyeon’s slower bits happen so fast that it takes a little while to process the speed at which “STEP” operates but that whirlwind of activity keeps the momentum from getting stale and it provides a necessary counter-point to the lightning-quick pace that “STEP” starts and ends on. By the time the last hook rings out, KARA isn’t even in this atmosphere.

“STEP” may not “objectively” (as far as music goes) be an iconic K-Pop single (or even KARA’s most popular work) but damn it, it’s the bestest, smartest, sweetest song in all the land.

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7 comments

  1. Kpoptartsarebestpoptarts · · Reply

    For me it will always be Jumping. It was the first song of theirs that I ever heard, and I was immediately in love with them.

    Such a shame that they are gone.

  2. Their songs are so good. Even though I’m not a fan of them, I always listen to their songs. Mister, Step, Jumping, Lupin… It was also goo with Youngji but well… I Guess good things will come to an end someday too.

  3. This song kept this group from disbanding years earlier than it did. It’s success seemed to cause the withdrawal of several suits that members had filed against DSP. Sadly, it just postponed the inevitable. Like many good pop songs, there isn’t anything outstanding here. It simply worked with the right combination of sound and visuals at the right time.

  4. Whenever anyone asks me what are my most favorite kpop songs ever, my two mainstays are After School’s “Because of You” and Kara’s “Step”. I am not ashamed of those choices, even if SNSD will always be my top group.

    1. I think me and you have very similar tastes haha.

  5. One of kpops best. RIP Kara.

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