Summer is finally here, and Fromis 9 are here to ring in the season with an upbeat track, just as they did with “We Go” last year. But while “We Go” was absolutely summer appropriate, the nonet’s summer release this year, “Stay This Way”, falls short of expectations. 

After the successful release of “DM,” Fromis 9 seem to have defined their style, leaning toward a more sentimental and mature sound while maintaining an upbeat feel. And “Stay This Way” is exactly that. It is just the right amount of nostalgic yet refreshing and light. In this way, “Stay This Way” is perfect for summer, that is, sans the visuals. 

While Fromis 9 have consistently built up their style, their MV fails to reflect their lyrics well. The music video for “Stay With Me” appears extremely different and out of date, even to casual listeners like myself. With the ability to produce complex and colourful MVs like “We Go” and “Talk & Talk,” it makes one wonder: What happened here? 

For one, while “Stay This Way” features a beach—a prerequisite to any summer release—it largely misses the mark by failing to include identifiably summer-y shots, such as beaches, water, palm trees, and the members having fun together. Instead, the MV offers too many individual close-up scenes of the members, such as Hayoung playing with bubbles, Nagyung relaxing in the shade, and Jiwon admiring the sunset, and a couple of dance sequences that fail to capture the essence of summer fun.

On top of that, knowing that Fromis 9 travelled to Saipan to film “Stay This Way” inevitably makes you scratch your head as to why they had to fly out of Korea when the MV barely features Saipan’s beautiful landscape and beaches. In fact, domestically, Jeju is also home to beaches that are equally stunning as well. Perhaps, the need to fly to Saipan really wasn’t necessary. With that being said, the strong disconnect between Fromis 9’s MV and concept causes “Stay This Way” to pale in comparison to other MVs that were also shot in Saipan, such as Ateez’s “Wave” and Secret’s “YooHoo,” which both took advantage of Saipan’s gorgeous scenery. 

Additionally, there is not much of a storyline in “Stay This Way”. The visual storyline is roughly carved out only in the first few seconds of the MV: The group reminiscences a past summer with their lover, hinted at by Jiwon looking through her view-master as a vignette of Fromis 9’s happier moments flash up on the screen. Lyrically, however, a deeper story unfolds as Fromis 9 experience a memorable summer and want to stop time.

Stay this way

We’re dancing and we’re lighting each other

Like tonight is our last

Stay this way It’s like a dream

I look at you and stay this way

As one can tell, there’s so much potential in the lyrics, and yet the MV lets it go to waste. “Stay This Way” then comes off as mediocre and cheap, especially when compared to “We Go,” with its complex editing which proved that a lot of work was put into it. Moreover, in the opening few seconds of “Stay This Way,” it is already clear that the decision to utilise a dull and muted style of colour grading is at odds with the vibrant summer aesthetics. Perhaps this seemingly deliberate stylistic choice was meant to represent Fromis 9’s past memory that they can never experience again, as it was “like a dream”. However, their efforts are in vain as the MV becomes highly disjointed and unexciting instead, which defeats the purpose of a summer release.

Sonically, “Stay This Way” sounds fantastic. Overall, the song’s outro and final chorus are the song’s greatest moments, and they are typical of past Fromis 9 releases. Although it is very different from the Fromis 9 earworm that some are familiar with, it is still easy to listen to, light, and nostalgic. While some may claim that Fromis 9 are now becoming formulaic, personally, “Stay This Way” is still very Fromis 9-esque, and this is in the best way possible.

Fromis 9’s inability to bridge the gap lyrically and visually results in an MV that is disjointed and difficult to comprehend. Though “Stay This Way” is a song that’s ideal for the summer, it is unfortunate that the MV did not do the song justice with a number of dubious choices that inadvertently cheapen the viewing experience. However, knowing that Fromis 9 have been consistent with their past releases, perhaps “Stay This Way” is just an anomaly for Fromis 9 in failing to delight.

(YouTube[1][2]. Images via Hybe Entertainment. Lyrics via Colorcodedlyrics.)