‘Tis the season for winter and holiday K-pop releases as 2021 ends its last stretch. RBW brother groups Onewe and Oneus added their voices to the mix with their collaboration release “Stay” and its MV on December 21st. “Stay” comes in the wake of a successful year of comebacks for the two groups, most recently Oneus’ Blood Moon in early November and Onewe’s Planet Nine: Alter Ego in June (plus the band’s pre-release “Star” in late November).
The last time the 11 members came together for an official release was before either group had debuted in 2019. “Last Song” teems with bright hopefulness, akin to a sunny spring day, for what was just beyond the horizon.
Now, two years later, “Stay” draws inspiration from Onewe and Oneus’ familiar and colorful friendship. The MV also leans into coziness as its concept, an apt theme considering “Stay” comes during the winter season of South Korea and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere.
The comfortable and laughter-filled moments that make up the majority of the MV serve as a way for the members to reflect on the past year—and the time since their debuts—as a new one draws closer. The simple but touching chorus, “Stay with me / Here I am, stay by my side” captures a broader wish, delivered to listeners and their fellow members.
In “Stay,” the 11 are bundled up as they roam around in an abandoned warehouse, a place that they eventually make to be a space of their own. CyA wears a fuzzy ushanka hat and a puffy vest with a sweatshirt layered underneath, both adding more evidence to why his nickname is Hamster. Keonhee dons a long orange-brown coat, a color that slides seamlessly between an autumnal and winter feel, while a red scarf around his neck completes his fashionably cozy get-up. More scarves, ball caps, and puffy winter coats find homes as parts of the members’ comfortable outfits.
Whether the artists are running outside or diving into their music indoors, their exterior warmth reflects the familiar atmosphere they create when they are together. The “Stay” MV often alternates between a warm and cool editing style in order to underline Oneus and Onewe’s bond, which automatically makes a scene feel brighter.
Similarly, the MV switches protagonists throughout, rotating between the 11 members. There is always a moment where the chosen narrator is alone in a place where they were all together at one point, creating a juxtaposition that only strengthens the scenes of friendship.
Both of these techniques are noted when CyA is the protagonist. Towards the middle of the MV, the youngest and bassist of Onewe is seen in the warehouse, where the opening scene occurred. However, unlike those times of sunshine, laughter, and making music together, the room is significantly colder and darker, in part because of the purple glow edited onto the scene.
As CyA picks up the forgotten football—a memento of the groups’ friendship—he leaves a blue painted handprint behind before turning around. The heavy editing washes away to show all 11 members dressed in white and running around with blue paint. Warm light surrounds them and also exudes from them because of their bright happiness.
As some might expect, the group scenes are the ones that steal the show, effortlessly demonstrating Onewe and Oneus’ natural dynamic. “Stay” opens with their jam session, capturing the 11 learning “Stay” together after Seoho finds the original sheet music. The MV returns to this warehouse often, like when the members pile onto Yonghoon or when they rest together and Harin drapes his arm around Hwanwoong.
However, it is the paint scenes halfway through that best highlight the groups’ relationship with one another. Hands covered in blue paint and aimed initially at the white sheet on the opposite wall are mischievously turned onto the nearby members. Everyone rushes Keonhee as he runs to add his handprint to a blank space on the wall, and the others successfully swipe bright paint onto his cream sweater.
All of these antics are in good fun, though. After the first handprint goes astray, the other ten are soon covered in more blue than their originally all-white ensembles. A radiant smile fills Dongmyeong’s face as the camera captures him planting a handprint on someone. A similar expression finds its way onto his twin brother Xion’s features, who is the receiver of many paint-covered hands rather than being the giver.
Onewe’s guitarist Kanghyun grins cheekily while he paints blue onto himself with a big brush, and Harin’s dimple appears while he high-fives another pair of blue hands. The camera cuts a moment later to poor Seoho who gets paint dumped over his head, essentially turning his white hoodie (including the hood situated on his head) into a blue one.
Although this paint moment is about 30 seconds long, it vividly encapsulates the brotherly relationship between Oneus and Onewe, further proving that they are one despite their different musical and artistic focuses.
And that is the beauty of “Stay”: not only does it show this synergy, but it proves to be a track that weaves together each group’s strengths and styles. Oneus and Onewe may be on seemingly opposite sides of the musical spectrum—the former being a performance-driven group and the latter being a self-composing band. “Stay” bridges these two identities to form a sweet and catchy song that feels neither “too Onewe” nor “too Oneus.” Instead, it strikes as a “Oneus AND Onewe” creation.
This is achieved through the mid-tempo ballad structure (which neither group is a stranger to), the blend of voices, and weaving the rappers’ identifiable tones into the song’s fabric without disrupting its flow. Oneus’ Leedo integrates his deeper tone with a more melodic rap, and Onewe’s CyA brings a little more bounciness in during his lines with his mid-range tone. Ravn concludes the rap section after a brief electric guitar moment, picking up its rhythmic pattern in his part, which is characterized by his sharp and brighter style.
As far as vocals go, Seoho and Yonghoon complement each other well, their lines infused with a balance of sentimental feeling and a smile that remembers the good times. Both are established as the powerful main vocalists of their respective groups, but their force never overwhelms in “Stay.” Rather, there are elated moments of recognition, like Seoho’s first crystal clear note followed by his signature vibrato, that help shape the single. In the last chorus, too, Yonghoon whips out his distinct ad-libs, where his warm voice soars to the high notes behind the last chorus sung in unison by the others.
Both the rapping and singing styles give the stamp of Oneus and Onewe onto this end-of-the-year track. Otherwise, the song’s theme and overall feeling could have fallen into the territory of “others could cover it and you might not know the difference.”
In the end, “Stay” demonstrates how important group dynamics are to music. The two groups’ comfortable relationship is in the spotlight in this MV, providing visual evidence of how artists working together can also draw in fans who stay. In the case of “Stay,” the joy, laughter, and coziness that is so obvious between RBW’s brother groups create an MV of comfort and friendship. There is hopefulness for what will come, timed perfectly for the incoming new year, and strength in knowing what has passed. Because it is clear in “Stay” that Oneus and Onewe understand—at least—that they have each other.
(YouTube . Lyrics via Genius. Images via RBW Entertainment.)