Stray Kids’ “5-Star” album living up to its name

June 2, 2023 was the official comeback of Stray Kids with their new album, 5-Star. As one of the most popular K-pop groups worldwide, Stray Kids are the only group after BTS that has topped the Billboard 100 at the number one spot multiple times. Only about 2 months after the ending of their last tour, the 8-member group still releases tons of interesting content to keep fans hooked. This highly anticipated and promoted album was predicted to be one of their most successful, especially considering their steadily growing fanbase. It recently broke the K-pop record for the most pre-ordered album ever, at over 5.1 million copies. So, does this album really live up to its name of being 5 stars?

This is the third full studio album that they have released, containing 12 tracks total. So far the only music video released has been the one for “S-Class,” the title track. It is currently the #4 trending video on Youtube, and had reached 13 million views in the first 24 hours. The song has spitting raps, booming baselines, a 90’s hip hop vibe, and much more all blended in one.  The rappers also have duetting parts, their fun and intense dynamic creating an interesting blend of their voices. 

 The album also showcases newly released songs made years ago, such as “Super Bowl” a song that was intended to be released in 2021. Surprisingly, this is actually the original “God’s Menu,” the smash hit that had first catapulted them to fame. 

There is also a collaboration with Tiger JK, a legendary Korean rapper they had previously worked with at the MAMA awards for their song called “TOPLINE.”  Much to the elation of their fans, their vocal line also had their first rapping parts in this song.

The album also includes some previously released songs like “Mixtape: Time Out,” and “The Sound” which is in its Korean version from its previous Japanese album released a few months ago. 

Their sound is always completely their own, especially considering that they are a self-producing group. Their 3-member subgroup, 3Racha, is a producing and rap group that composes and arranges most of their pieces. One of their members, Changbin, himself said they create music that is so “funnily annoying that it blurs your sense of judgment.” But this album’s music has a cohesivity that was not as prominent in other albums. As their composing skills continue to develop and refine, their music is only getting better. 

HAN also showed off his superb writing skills once again, as he individually created both “Collision” and “Get Lit,” two vastly differing compositions. “Collision” has a relaxing R&B take on lost love, while “Get Lit” is something that could be playing in the background of a raging party. Other tracks include: “Hall of Fame,” “ITEM,” “DLC,” “Youtiful,” and “FNF.”

This album is rumored to be a combination of all the concepts of their past albums. With the idea of going beyond what is considered normal, it is a pretty direct continuation of the concepts introduced in their previous album “Oddinary.” Lee Know, another one of the members, said that each of the songs have their true “SKZ feel.” 

Despite fitting well with the Stray Kids theme and their unique sound, the songs are still completely novel. Within these songs each member ventured into trying new aspects of their voice for both singing and rapping. HAN, when describing their title track, said “I know it’s a song that people can either strongly like or dislike.”  As with many of their songs, it does not fit everyone’s taste, as their prolific music is sometimes described as “noisy.”  But fans seem to love the new album, one netizen claiming “This is their best album ever!” 

 For myself, the song is one that grows on you the more you listen to it. Listening to Stray Kids’ fast-paced music can be overwhelming at first. But once you get used to it, their songs are sure to be on repeat. So, if you have not already, go check out Stray Kids’ electrifying new album.