Everyone's favorite underdogs are back- though it kind of feels like they never left. "Stop Girl" is U-KISS's ninth video in ten months. Yes, you read that right- nine videos. In ten months. I'm worn out just thinking about it. This is also their first venture sans AJ, who is taking a temporary break from the band to go to college in the US.
"Stop Girl" features light R&B influences with a cool, midtempo beat that we haven't really heard from U-KISS before, as they usually stick with ballads or fast-paced dance tracks. It's been a while since they've done a Korean comeback with a melody-heavy song, and "Stop Girl" makes up for lost time with lots of focus on the vocals and some really nice harmonies. My one nit-pick with the song would be Eli's first rap about "the tears in your eyes telling me goodbye," which feels stilted and out-of-place. The rest of the rapping is fine, it's just that one section that bugs me.
It's also a new direction in terms of lyrical content- U-KISS singles are usually either love songs, songs about hating an ex, or songs about dancing. "Stop Girl" tells a more nuanced story about a failing relationship. The couple is still in love, but they've passed the honeymoon phase and gotten to the point where everything feels like work. The narrator is debating whether they're really in love or not, and whether the relationship is worth the struggle.
I absolutely love this choreography. Kiseop's opening solo with the other members mirroring him one by one is a great moment for him. Kevin and Soohyun have great spotlight moments in the prechorus, and it makes me so happy to see a group interacting with their backup dancers instead of just dancing near them. I've been a ballroom dancer for almost a decade now, so I know good partnering when I see it, and I was really impressed with the guys and their partners- they really seemed to be dancing *with* each other, and that's not an easy thing to learn when you're partnering for the first time.
I also really like how part of the group will be dancing in the front, then split and move out of the way for the group in back to come forward- it makes the dance feel like it's coming at you instead of just staying static in one little square, and it gives the guys in back the chance to catch their breath. These little breaks are definitely part of the reason U-KISS sings live so well- Soohyun's live vocals sound just as good as they do recorded, and that's no easy feat to accomplish.
While I wish the video could have featured the choreography more prominently, I do understand why it doesn't. The sets are bare with sharp, reflective surfaces that give off a cold and empty vibe, so that when the camera pulls back you can sense the lonliness and isolation that the song's narrator would feel. Personally, I think the black and white version of the video fits the song perfectly, while the color version had a little less impact.
In April, U-KISS gave us one of K-Pop's most underrated singles of the year with "DoraDora". "Stop Girl" is a different story- It's not my favorite song by them, and it's not the best song out there right now- if I'm being honest, it was the video and live performances that sold me on it. While "Stop Girl" may not be the most bombastic single this group has ever released, it is a solid next step towards tapping into their unexplored potential as a group. I don't think we'll see U-KISS go full-throttle again until AJ returns, but this works just fine in the meantime.