Release Date: January 3, 2022
- Step Back
2022 is barely a few days old, and it looks like SM Entertainment is starting the year with a bang with a polarizing song from the first group debuting from their Girls On Top project.
The song in question is Step Back, and it’s performed by a seven-member supergroup called GOT the beat, made up of members from the female roster of SM Entertainment.
The members of GOT the beat are:
- Taeyeon, Hyoyeon (Girls’ Generation)
- Seulgi, Wendy (Red Velvet)
- Karina, Winter (aespa)
What exactly makes this song polarizing, you might ask?
Some believe the lyrics are beneath the artists involved in this group. Taking what could have been a fierce display of womanly power and reducing it to a generic “Back off my man, bitch!” type of song.
Others don’t appreciate the involvement of the girl group producer of the moment, Ryan Jhun. A person whose public image has taken a hit recently for some misogynistic comments made regarding the type of artists he is working with these days.
Lastly, some don’t consider the music itself to be listenable and find it a lazy attempt given the grade of talent in this group.
The lyrics are a complicated issue because context can cause them to be interpreted in very different ways. They don’t seem different from what I have heard from American R&B/Pop groups. So I don’t find anything wrong with them.
The only fault I find with the lyrics is that more effort could have been put into them. After all, rhyming “level” with “level” is some top-tier writing, right?
Looking at Ryan Jhun’s discography, he has been involved in creating many songs I like. However, I don’t believe he shits gold and that everything he touches is instantly (and I hate this overused term) “amazing.”
True to his current m.o. he has contributed to the composition of Step Back. However, having someone who is considered a misogynist by many listeners involved in this girl group project gives terrible optics and fuels the fire for those who don’t like the message GOT the beat is conveying in this song.
As I mentioned above, many were expecting a girl-power anthem, and outrage ensues because that did not seem to be the case.
My real issue with Step Back is that I don’t find it to be listenable at all. And it’s not because I’ve aged out of current music. It’s because the song is just random noise with no structure and is and is a worst-case example of “making beats” rather than making a cohesive piece of music. Looking online, I’m not alone in this opinion.
SM is trying hard to be unique with some of their music these days, but perhaps they should have held back a little for this group and released something normal instead? The only thing the production team got right in this is the trademark SM R&B breakdown. The rest of Step Back is a challenging listen, whether it be the grating string/horn samples, the chanting choir or the attempts to pander to the low attention span generation of listeners. Pick your poison.
There is no reason to pay attention to Step Back without the visual and performance aspect, which seems to be the only thing people excited about this supergroup care about anyway.
Audio only? Forget it.