K-pop Artist of the Month: Stray Kids (스트레이 키즈)

It’s finally, the month of February and the artist of this month is the rookie group from JYP called Stray Kids. This is the first boy group that JYP has launched since DAY6 in 2015. This group was supposed to be a seven member group, however, as decided by the fans, they decided to add two more members at the end of their reality show. This makes Stray Kids a nine member group where Bang Chan is the leader of the group.

After finalising the line-up through their MNET reality show last October, Stray Kids has dropped their pre-debut album, Mixtape. This album contains songs that were featured on their show and the tracks are produced by the members. So will this album live up to fans’ expectations and bring something new that previous JYP bands don’t offer? Let’s find out…

Album Review

Track 1 – “Hellevator”

This was the first song that introduced Stray Kids to the public. It was the first track that was released before the reality show and has been out for a few months now. It represents the difficulties that a trainee life brings and the desire to follow their passion for performing. It was well-received by the fans. I really enjoyed listening to the song. The vocals are great and the rap is even better. It gives the song an edge and the rap carries the track. My favourite part of the song is where members Changbin and Jisung showcase their impressive flow and duality in the way they perform.

Track 2 – “GRRR” (총량의 법칙)

This is the second track from the album. The song starts with a hard beat and reminds me something you would hear from another group such as B.A.P. I feel that the song is quite heavy in rap and after listening to it a few times, I can hear that the group has really talented rappers. The lyrics are quite aggressive and it hard to define the start, middle and end of the track. This track tries to convey the mood swings and the frustration of adolescence. However, I feel that the lyrics don’t deliver this. Throughout the track, I feel that the group is trying a little too hard to convey a message. This song is not my cup of tea because of all the heavy beats. It a bit too strong for me.

Track 3 – “Young Wings (어린 날개)”

Young Wings is a stunning song. It is my favourite song from the album. You are able to hear all the members’ vocals and rapping clearly. It has been arranged in such way that it’s quite pleasant to listen to. The lyrics refer to a young person’s desire to grow up. However, there is an underlying fear that comes with growing up. This is a song that people can relate to their own lives. I really like the progression of the song as it is very natural and smooth, which makes the song great to listen to.

Track 4 – “YAYAYA”

YAYAYA is a punchy and powerful song from Stray Kids. It’s very bold, however, it’s a song that is not my cup of tea. It not a typical K-pop song. The verses, pre-chorus and bridge are all solid and there is excellent rapping. However, I don’t really like the flow of the song, and I feel they have tried too hard. It seems they are mashing too many different songs together as it goes back and forth between sounds. In the studio version of the song, some of the elements were lost and it created a song that I didn’t like to listen too.

Track 5 -“Glow”

This track is a stunning ballad and I really like it. It’s one of those slow rap songs. Glow showcases a different side to Stray Kids. It shows that they are able to create different types of music. The song is very delicate from the start and Woojin’s vocals during the second half of the song are exceptional. It showcases a different side to his voice that is not present in other tracks on the album. Also, the lyrics have been carefully been written, where parallels can be drawn between literal references and metaphors of the song. I really enjoyed the ending where it feels like a grand closing to a great song.

Track 6 – “School Life”

This is a type of song I don’t like listening too. Maybe I am getting old but it sounds like a kids song. I feel that Stray kids have failed in this concept. The lyrics represent the idea of frustration of standard routines of the education system. The arrangement of the song is very basic and bland and has no lyrical impact. It’s supposed to be a playful song and that what they are trying to achieve but it’s a wasted concept. It doesn’t showcase the talents of members. It’s a song I would not listen to again.

Track 7 – “4419”

This is a song I really liked to listen to. On it you can hear everyone’s vocals. It’s an outstanding song and it’s one of my favourite songs of the whole album. This song has been altered slightly from the live version when they performed it on their reality show. There have been some clever changes that have been made to the song in order to make it suitable for a studio track. I think that the emotion the members express in this song is the most important rather than the arrangement. This song is all about the memories and it captures the feeling of nostalgia.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I feel that the album is okay. Normally, when I listen to albums, I like all the songs, however, this album is different. Stray Kids is a new rookie group and I expected more from this album. The only songs I really liked were “Hellevator”, “Young Wings”, “Glow” and “4419”. When I first listened to it, it was very catchy to listen too. I really like those songs and it fits Stray Kids’ style. The rest of the songs on the album, I felt didn’t belong.

Anyways, it’s a pre-debut EP where the songs are from their reality show, which we have heard from before. I am hoping that for their actual debut album, they are producing songs which are original and fit their style. I want each member to be able to shine and showcase their talents.

Just the facts: Socal Media Edition

Here are the social media accounts of Stray Kids. Please follow them in order to keep up to date with their activities.

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