The summer moment we’ve (or maybe just me) been waiting for has finally arrived. The queens of meta sexiness Stellar have returned with their most brazenly sexual single yet. ‘‘Vibrato(r)’’ is their seventh single since 2011, and the fourth in their sexy catalogue. What’s interesting about this catalogue is the connectivity of each of the songs and how aware Stellar are of the negativity they face when it comes to sexy concepts. With their latest single, they show no signs of stopping.
Taking a Stellar song out of context by removing the music video is an interesting and essential thing to do when considering its qualities. Their music videos are so loaded with suggestive imagery that the song can sometimes get lost in the mix. That would be a total shame as each of their four most recent songs, including ‘‘Vibrato’’, have been incredible. For ‘‘Vibrato’’ they have gone for a lot more energy and dance pop elements than earlier songs, which seem to convey a celebration of the themes their songs contain.
‘‘Vibrato’’ contains a huge amount of different sounds pulled into one funky, disco pop anthem. Synths pop, strings whirl, pianos sing, and horns blare. Each instrument comes and goes in fleeting moments holding the song on its edge at all times. These are held together by a super smooth rhythm section of guitar, bass, and drums. The song has a great mix of electronic and acoustic sounds that combined help it keep from straying too far into retro territory. At the same time, they rhythm section grounds “Vibrato” well so that it can still capture a fun, disco feel.
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Structurally, the opening two minutes follow a familiar formula of verses and choruses. Stellar, due to their small size, can do this in an interesting way though. For most of their singles they effectively split verses into two parts assigning two members to each part. In the first verse of ‘‘Vibrato,’’ Hyoeun and Minhee sing the first half and Gayoung and Jeonyul rap the second part. It’s a simple way of keeping things interesting.
Those opening two minutes are great, but would have been generic by themselves. So we are lucky that the song explodes into life just moments after the two minute mark. First the song takes some downtime with a slow, suggestive build up over an image of a handbag opening. It doesn’t quite take off yet right after this but keeps the tempo down with a piano led bridge. Cue some more vaginal imagery and the song finally reaches its climax. It is literally and figuratively orgasmic. The song turns euphoric with Hyoeun’s high pitched wail which signals the return of the synths. Its an incredible moment that matches form and theme to perfection. A commitment to sex like no other K-pop group could do.
This is where the music video also comes into play. It adds the final layer that makes ‘‘Vibrato’’ a 2015 classic already. The self-awareness on show is paramount to Stellar’s success when it comes to sexy concepts. Like EXID before them, Stellar were hurt by comments made about them from previous singles.
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Each of the members are put in compromising positions that allow them to be looked at, objectified. They are trapped within glass boxes as camera flashes go off all around them. Images of Barbie dolls come up on televisions. Stellar were made to feel uncomfortable by the press and general public, based on their previous concepts and lack of hits. Their bodies are under intense scrutiny within mirrored halls where they wear their outfits from the ‘‘Marionette’’ video. This may seem like Stellar were angry with their company and ready to apologize to the public.
But this is not an apology.
This is a celebration of female sexuality. Halfway through the video, the dolls are thrown away, the boxes the members are in get bigger. The choreography gives them space to dance as they wish. Eventually they begin to thrive on the sexiness. They are mature women who are aware that they are being shamed for expressing themselves and have had enough of the negativity. This is who they are and they love it. When the video arrives at the two minute turn it returns the sexy concept to where it belongs: sex. We are reminded of what this is really about. Vaginal imagery is suddenly everywhere. From here on in there are no images of the girls looking uncomfortable. They love their bodies and their sexuality.
Stellar have done it again. No other K-pop group is releasing music with such a subtextual edge while still being incredibly confrontational. Stellar are so necessary to today’s K-pop climate where girl groups are constantly shamed for being sexy yet it is at the same time all the public wants. It’s okay that they want it they just need to come to terms with the reality of it and allow a balance between how boy groups and girl groups are received. Stellar are fighting for this and yet I know they probably won’t change a thing. People won’t respond to the intricacies of what they are doing.
Apart from the thematic level, Stellar also delivered a stunning song. The dance pop sound fits them like a g-string. It allows them to move into celebratory territory and slams home their theme. This is what really makes them stand out, matching a song’s sound and structure to theme allows it to have a bigger impact and shows that what they are saying is no accident. If we take all that into the account the climax of ‘‘Vibrato’’ will be one of the great musical moments of K-pop in 2015.
What do you think about Stellar’s comeback and their sexual controversies? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter,Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.