Friday, February 9th, 2024

Sistar19 – No More (Ma Boy)

Reunited, and it feels so… ???

Sistar19 - No More (Ma Boy)

Michael Hong: The parent song might have had a chorus that positively soared, but here, the duo arrive with a flat announcement: a gentle tap-tap-tap.

Ian Mathers: I have heard “Ma Boy,” ma’ams (just today, actually!) and this is no “Ma Boy.” By which I mean mostly I miss the boom-bappier production and what feels like a lightness of touch, but this comeback ain’t half bad either.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: What the hell were they thinking in referencing “Ma Boy” in the title? I hear “Alone” and traces of 4Minute’s “Volume Up,” but tidied up into something dignified. What that means is Hyolyn does not deliver a stunning vocal performance, nor does Bora function as an interesting foil with a rapped verse. I was never a huge fan of “Gone Not Around Any Longer,” but in retrospect I appreciate that it had the audacity to capture the pathos of a Korean drama.

Kayla Beardslee: This hook isn’t big enough to carry a whole song (every time I make myself sit through it again, my score drops further), but at least Hyolyn reminds us that she still has one of the greatest voices in K-pop.

Nortey Dowuona: When Sistar19 lock in together, they are unstoppable. Apart, though is a different story, When Hyolyn handles the first verse, she is confident and poised, swapping back in during the pre-chorus without losing a step, and leading the last line of the song out on a sterling, clarion note. Bora, however, meekly and gently starts the first pre-chorus and tiptoes to the forefront on the second. Hyolyn strides forth to sing the second pre-chorus with Bora, who gains a bit of confidence in the second part, thus leading each chorus to combine into a bold, all-caps declaration rather than the confident, capable delivery and the shy, meek delivery of the verses, a sign of trust that each’s approach will strengthen the song. They’ve worked together over the 11 years of their hiatus, growing into themselves fully as soloists, and their combined performance is proof.

John S. Quinn-Puerta: I could talk about the way this was designed to be my personal dopamine dealer (strings, piano hits, dual harmonies). I could talk about the sheer amount of context I’m missing (a decade-long hiatus). I could even try for the mythical long blurb and turn this into a personal anecdote. But I’m at a loss here. Pobody’s Nerfect.

Katherine St. Asaph: Stiff, stodgy, and capable of exorcising any summoned groove.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: This is so frothy that it almost defies critical assessment — I’ve had the hook stuck in my head for the past week but have not managed to muster any particular thoughts about the song other than a sense of giddiness at the throb of the bass. Maybe that’s my failing as a listener; maybe it’s the song’s success.

Anna Suiter: I listened to this maybe 5 times, trying to figure out if “Ma Boy” was actually in the lyrics or just a reference to the now seemingly distant past. It turns out that it actually is, if you listen closely at the very end. An easter egg, if you will.

Taylor Alatorre: The intricacies of these often short-lived K-pop subgroups make it hard for me to think of a Western pop equivalent to this. The closest I can think of would be if Patrick Stump came out with a sequel to Soul Punk in 2022, with a lead single talking about how he actually kinda hates Chicago. And since we’re on a Fall Out Boy train now, one could plausibly describe “No More” as a song that knows what “Ma Boy” did in the dark. The willingness to view one’s past with coldly unsentimental eyes is a useful skill to have in real life, but it takes some deft songwriting hands to avoid putting too much emphasis on the coldness of it, and to still allow some space for unfettered cathartic release. That deftness is evident only in patches here, and “No More” suffers by comparison to the effortless, perhaps naïve joy of the original. “Take everything you love and burn the ashes,” indeed.

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One Response to “Sistar19 – No More (Ma Boy)”

  1. Tell me why I would make my whole blurb about Fall Out Boy and then proceed to not even quote their song correctly

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