KPop's Rising Artist: STAYC

With how saturated the Korean Pop industry has become over the past decade, it can be difficult to discover newer artists. If you wanted to discover artists who’d recently debuted, you’d have to catch them on popular music show programs such as Inkigayo or Music Bank (which viewing these themselves was difficult for international fans then), popular variety shows such as Happy Together or Star King, or fanmade blogs created by seasoned K-Pop fans. 

Now that the Internet is more accessible and social media can contribute to an artists’ success, however, it has become easier to discover artists who’d recently debuted, especially those from smaller and unknown companies. One such artist I discovered through the Internet is STAYC, a six-member girl group under High Up Entertainment. 

I first heard about the group from some friends on Twitter, who said they were excited for STAYC’s debut because of their “gorgeous vocals'' and “fresh sound.” I usually didn’t look into newer artists, but after some time I thought “why not?” It’d been a while since I last discovered new music. Well, let me just say, I am glad I decided to give STAYC a chance! Even though the girls have debuted a few short months ago, I can sense great potential in them. Since then, I have been on the move to persuade people to check them out and with that, I would like to inform you, lovely readers, of the history and talent of STAYC. Without further ado, let’s begin!

Founded in August 2017 by renowned producer duo Black Eyed Pilseung in conjunction with mass media company CJ E&M, High Up Entertainment announced on September 8th that the duo would be debuting their first ever girl group. That same day, main vocalist Sieun was introduced to the public, with leader Sumin and vocalist Seeun being revealed the next day, September 9th. The remaining three members – lead vocalist Isa, vocalist and rapper J, and lead vocalist Yoon – were introduced via prologue films October 12, 13 and 14, respectively. 

STAYC made their official debut on November 12th with the single album “Star To A Young Culture” (which their group name is an acronym of); that same day, the music video for the album’s lead single “So Bad” was released and amassed 2.6 million views on YouTube in its first twenty-four hours. According to data from Gaon Music Chart, a chart by the Korean Music Content Association that calculates a song or albums popularity in South Korea on a weekly basis, “Star To A Young Culture” has sold a total of 31,449 copies, making STAYC the highest selling female rookie group of 2020. 

Despite being from a relatively small and unknown company, it is no surprise STAYC are such a hit right off the bat. Before their official debut, when the group was known as “HighUp Girls,” members Sieun, Seeun and Sumin wowed viewers with their vocal and dance covers posted to their official YouTube channel. Sumin and Sieun’s powerful vocals were showcased in covers of Lizzo’s “Juice” and Anne-Marie’s “2002,” respectively; while Sieun and Seeun showed off their charisma in a dance cover of -Red Velvet Irene and Seulgi’s “Monster.” 

STAYC were also promoted through 1theK’s YouTube channel, where the girls performed dance covers by artists such as Blackpink and BTS, as well as vocals covers by Twice and Red Velvet. These covers received over one million and two million views respectively, showing that even before debut, STAYC captured the attention of many due to their immense talent.

That’s not all, though. When the girls came to be known as STAYC and High Up Entertainment were releasing teasers for their single album, a specific clip highlighting the group’s vocals sans instrumentals went viral on Twitter amongst K-Pop fans. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my eight years as a K-Pop fan, it’s that people love extraordinary vocals. Fortunately, all six members of STAYC did not disappoint curious spectators. 

With the promotions that followed their official debut, the group further impressed viewers with their lively, charismatic performances on South Korean music programs such as KBS Music Bank, SBS Inkigayo and Show Champion. One performance in particular that caught the general public’s attention, however, was a special end of year performance of Girls’ Generation’s “Way to Go.” STAYC have regularly cited the Nation’s Girl Group as one of their role models and influences, and their energetic performance with spectacular live vocals captured the hearts of many. 

All in all, whether you’re a hardcore fan of the genre or someone who has never listened to a single K-Pop song in your life, STAYC is a group to keep on your radar. Despite only debuting two months ago, the girls have proven to be a prominent force in the fourth generation of K-Pop girl groups and overall. If they keep up their current momentum, I can see STAYC being a definite leader of the fourth generation.