[Album Review] 5 Stars for Stray Kids' 5-Star

Cheyenne Chong

Credits: JYP Entertainment

While Stays have been anticipating Stray Kids' third full-length album, the band themselves did not anticipate how much their fans were at the ready. The fourth-generation powerhouse joined BTS and Seventeen in the top five Kpop groups with the highest number of pre-order sales. Stray Kids broke the all-time record with 4.93 million preorders as of May 30, and in just 48 hours that number rose to 5.13 million sales.

In an interview with Cosmopolitan Korea, Hyunjin said, "Our goal of showing our music to more people has not been broken. I think our potential is being recognized more than we are now." And this album is proof that the more Stray Kids continues to grow as individual artists and as a group, so will their music style and ability to share it with the world. 

On the Album

The streaming numbers and charts are relevant pieces of the Kpop industry nowadays but, like many groups, Stray Kids prides themselves on showing colors that highlight who they are and what their art can say. Changbin, a member of the rap line and main production team 3RACHA, describes the identity of their music as "approaching something simple in a complex way." That's proven to be true when fans look at an album full of potential title tracks turned b-sides. The fourth track on the album, "Super Bowl," had sat in wait for over two years and was originally meant to be the title track for their second album, NoEasy, as the original "God's Menu." The members and JYPE landed on "S-Class" as the title track for 5-Star when they realized that having so many options meant they hadn't found the right one until the right one came along. 

5-Star isn't just a list of songs powerful enough to be title tracks; Bang Chan and Felix both hail from Australia and wrote a song, "Flora and Fauna" (FNF) to memorialize the wildfires that plagued their home country in 2019 - 2020. Stray Kids' music provides a sense of healing and fun for their fans, it's only right that they write songs like that for themselves and the places and people they love as well. 

They let their ambition and aspirations show through songs like the first track, "Hall of Fame," and they let their love for their fans show in a song specially written for Stay called, "Youtiful." Bang Chan's intent behind "Youtiful" is to remind Stay that being yourself is enough, a reminder his fans pass on to him consistently as well. 

Stray Kids didn't just stop at heartfelt and electrifying, they added an unexpected but highly celebrated collaboration with Khip-hop legend, Tiger JK. Bang Chan, Han, and Changbin (3RACHA) first performed with Tiger JK at the Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) in November 2022, paying tribute to how music brings people together. That message went beyond their stage together, bringing the members back to work with one of their idols for an iconic rap verse in the track, "Topline." Every track that received a teaser video, including "Topline" is being held in high anticipation by Stay for full music videos. The group's main dancer and second oldest Lee Know says that seeing their performances and songs together shows the true "SKZ feel." 

The Comeback Continues

Main vocalist Seungmin described the 5-Star trailer as "special and distinct;" Stray Kids fans tend to describe the self-produced artists as having their own genre; from trailer to album, there is no exception. 5-Star takes the elements and inspiration of past Stray Kids and allows them to continue exploring their sound. 

Listen to them tell their '5 Star' journey in their recently released "Intro" video:

When a group begins their comeback, fans await the release of the timeline for content, and at the end of Stray Kids' 5 Star promo, it read "7.1-7.2 What's Next?" It was revealed that on July 1-2, 2023, Stray Kids will host their 3rd Fan Meeting, "Pilot: For ★★★★★" at the KSPO Dome. Check out more about the event here and stay up-to-date on more Kpop news & reviews here at KpopWise.com!

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