Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

LOONA – Star

If I’m being honest I initially misread the title as “Stan”…


Leah Isobel: Freestyle syncopation! In 2021! What a delight.

Thomas Inskeep: LOONA’s first English-language single has a great throbbing pulse — if you hear Dua Lipa in its DNA, well, you’re not the only one — and whether intentional or not, the “hey! hey! hey!” midway through the verses is, to my ears, a callback to the Art of Noise’s “Close (To The Edit),” which guarantees an extra point or two from me.

Kayla Beardslee: This is a perfectly nice song, and the “‘Cause we’re running and running, it makes me nervous” line is an elite bit of melody. It’s just so sterile — if this track was personified and implicated in a crime, every single note and lyric would have an airtight alibi. Compare “Star” to songs like “La Di Da” or “Stay Tonight,” which are absolutely capable of murder, or “Dumhdurum,” which would at least help you hide the body; I just wish it felt less simplistic, that it had any goal besides inoffensive mass appeal.

Samson Savill de Jong: This feels like a Carly Rae Jepsen song, which sounds like a compliment but I’m not sure I mean it as such. It’s more a facsimile of that kind of track, but it doesn’t have the deftness or songcraft, and it’s lyrically bland. It’s not bad, it might even be good, but I’ve got the nagging sense that it could be great, and it’s not that either.

Katherine St Asaph: LOONA’s big US push isn’t as brash as their peers’ have been, but an earnestly besotten pop song akin to “Lucky Star” and Carly Rae Jepsen’s entire discography. Those are some lofty stars to reach for, and LOONA come close but don’t quite land among them. More concerningly, it’s the kind of song that tends to linger outside mainstream hit land even as it’s adopted and cherished by devoted fans on the Internet — and you’d think the artist frequently known as “stan LOONA” had already captured that audience.

Michael Hong: LOONA used to be the underdogs: a group of twelve personable girls who managed to embody every concept thrown at them from a relatively unknown company who spent billions of won to make them debut. They demonstrated talent and affinity for merging multiple mediums, all before debuting — Kim Lip’s ever-so-smooth “Eclipse” made you forget about the insanity of the concept of LOONA, while the story of Eve and the forbidden fruit builds itself directly into Yves’ independence, elevating “new.” And yet, post-debut LOONA just continues to falter. The vocal tones that made each girl so unique have been flattened, the sounds that made them so easy to root for replaced with lesser versions of newer groups, and the personalities they once showed are only found to the side of the main screen. A big part of LOONA’s decline is likely how the “stan loona” movement worked, flipping complaints of singles into imagined forms of mistreatment, redirecting any sort of negativity to their company rather than attaching it to their music or the group themselves. “So What” was criticized, not for being a limp version of Itzy, but for its unbalanced line distribution, which was very obviously the fault of the evil corporation BlockBerry Creative. “Star” follows the same path as “So What” — it’s the least funBlinding Lights” rip and the worst K-pop trends: clear pandering to North American markets through an English performance and too self-serious to be enjoyable. The cherry-on-top is that rather than the involvement of Korean production company monotree, BBC outsourced from an alleged abuser. And while it’s a secondary single for the group’s promotion, it’s worth noting that its music video is the kind of generic choreography and glamour shot video every other group is doing, with ugly swaths of colour and green screen universes. “Star” is a reminder that beyond their great pre-debut run, LOONA are another extraordinarily average girl group: occasional flashes of brilliance but more often than not, tediously ordinary.

Rachel Saywitz: Barring the questionable participation of Jesse Saint John’s production work, “Star” is one of the weaker singles in LOONA’s discography, straying too close to typical mainstream pop efforts in its verses, leading to a chorus that sounds too detangled from the rest of the track. There’s no doubt this was strategic however, especially because “Star” is the first of LOONA’s songs to be entirely in English and is also the first to be serviced to US pop radio. I do enjoy small melodic parts, like the demanding “close to me / you are all of me,” line in the chorus, and the punctuated, staccato synth breakdown, but this is a song that could do with some more cohesiveness altogether. 

Alfred Soto: In an ten-month period during which a wave of exceptional female-fronted dance pop showed no sign of cresting, “Star” should stand out. It’s not bad, but its stuttered hooks and euphoric interjections sound rote.

Reader average: [8.66] (3 votes)

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