“Girls, bring it on…”

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening…or whenever you’re rolling out of bed right now. Welcome to 2022.

Maybe you didn’t stay at home alone last night eating Halo Top, doing a digital DJ stream (more coming soon!) and watching the legitimately great metaversal origin story-slash-three-ish hour online concert, SMTOWN LIVE 2022 in the final hours of 2021. Some of us did. And I’m here to report that the live debut of Girls On Top (GOT) – or GOT the beat, anyway – was entirely worth the hype.

A group of K-Pop Power Top Avengers™ delivering an incredible performance together? Color me shocked.

Kicking off with a sort of holy, MDNA Tour-esque intro video (appropriate), the girls appeared on screen in one fierce line-up of rookies and veterans alike: the Queen of K-Pop™ BoA, WINTER and KARINA from aespa, Taeyeon and Hyoyeon from Girls’ Generation, and Seulgi and Wendy from Red Velvet.

And from the very first pose, they were off with a bang.

The most pressing concern one might have had prior to their debut is line distribution and camera time. After all, these are some of the top dancers and vocalists in the game. How was it all going to work? As it turns out: everyone got their chance to shine.

KARINA solidly set the tone from the first line, Taeyeon, WINTER and Wendy gave us some truly insane vocals and high notes aplenty, and that dance break between BoA, Hyo and Seulgi alone could absolutely kill a pilgrim. (Also, the BoA-Hyo tag-team moment? Too cute.)

As a ride-or-die ever since discovering “No. 1” around 2003, seeing BoA in a girl group at all was truly shocking, but she delivered as effortlessly as one would expect from the “My Name” icon, while still maintaining the leader energy that made it very clear she’s been the path-paving solo star from the start.

Also, you just know KARINA and WINTER were absolutely terrified the whole time they were rehearsing alongside their seniors who’ve been dominating the charts for years, if not decades. But they absolutely held their own, cementing their status among the best the new generation has to offer.

As for the song itself? It’s…divisive, to say the least.

To be fair, SM’s been on an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink experimental vibe since the launch of aespa, so it’s not totally a surprise that the final product is a disjointed hip-pop-Gregorian chant anthem that not everyone is loving.

It’s the lyrics causing more backlash on social media though, as the song’s mostly about prizing a man and telling a silly girl to fuck off, which is a fair criticism! It isn’t…necessarily the message one would hope to come from a pack of strong, talented women. We do not stan men in this house. Let’s just hope GOT the beat’s GOT even more music to offer after this debut.

Regardless of the song, the performance itself was still an adrenaline rush of a showcase of SM’s incredible female talent, and one hell of a way to kick off a new project. Maybe 2022 won’t suck, after all.

GOT the beat’s “Step Back” won’t be out until Monday (January 3), but based on my Instagram Story feed, I suspect most people won’t be fully sobered up until then, anyway.

Congratulations on your re-debut, Queens.