[Album Review] Jeon Jungkook Shows his True Colours with New Album "Golden"

Photo courtesy Bighit Entertainment

Described as the golden maknae Jeon Jungkook has done just that with his brand new album ‘Golden.’ A jam-packed album with 11 tracks including the title track ‘Standing next to you’ the long-awaited album was released on 3rd November at 1 p.m. KST. His golden streak began with his first solo debut single ‘Seven (feat Latto)’ which has since gone on to become the fastest song to hit a billion streams on Spotify. 

Soon followed the R’n’B track ‘3-D -feat (Jack Harlow)’ a track that felt like a resurgence of 90’s boyband's smooth numbers that were beloved by many. This cemented his status as a pop superstar, something that has perhaps been lacking within the industry. With the release of ‘Standing Next to You,’’ the parallels to the King of Pop Michael Jackson are evident. 

What could soon be the new Prince of Pop, the music video release for the title track ‘Standing Next to You’ is a cacophony of BTS music video visual easter eggs spread throughout. For those who loved ‘Black Swan’ Standing next to you is the older sister swirled in a darker version with a mature look completed with clean choreography to match Michael Jackson. For those who love Michael Jackson, they’ll see parallels to his hit video ‘Rock My World.’ If anything it's an even higher quality modern version, a dramatic sensual storyline involving the resolve to get attention from the female lead. 

From the first notes it's a funky song, transporting listeners back to the early 70s and allowing Jungkook to use his voice to relish in the beat. His ability to make a song sound brand new and unique as expected his voice is impressive and carries the song. The hypnotising beat joined by the repetitive chorus somehow works. It’s a joyous earworm, as a listener it acts more as an encouragement to sing along and engage. 

‘Yes and No’ is a gorgeous addictive listen, if you think it wouldn't sound out of place in an Ed Sheeran album then you'd be correct. The British singer wrote and produced the song and it’s the classic Sheeran pop recipe, its simplistic structure works wonders. Jungkook can make it his own by harmonising throughout evoking a feeling of a summer story longing for answers: 

‘Are you feeling the rush?/If so, then I think I know what's going on/And are we falling in love?/Say yes or no, yes or no, yes or no/Are you thinking 'bout us?/ If so, then I think I know what's going on/And are we falling in love?/Say yes or no, yes or no, yes or no.’

Photo courtesy of Bighit Entertainment

Upon release of the album Bighit stated “Golden takes its motif from the golden moments of Jung Kook as a solo artist. Known as the ‘Golden Maknae’ of BTS, Jungkook is set to unveil a new release with his unique timbre that will captivate listeners worldwide.”

And that he did, Golden tells a story that takes the shape of a rollercoaster, it starts with the latest release hit ‘3-D (feat Jack Harlow.)’ The first half starts as an upbeat pop dream, with the latter a dark and emotional navigation of heartbreak and loss. 

The heart-wrenching ‘Shot Of Glass Tears’ exposes Jungkook’s talent for using his vocals that render the music almost not needed. Lyrics drip in sorrow and sadness as he sings  ‘Tell me, am I ever gonna feel again? Tell me, am I ever gonna heal again?/Got a shot glass full of tears/Drink, drink, drink, say, "Cheers.” The soft track, later joined by soulful backing vocals heightens the energy making for a grand song.

Stating in the lead-up to the release his goal was to be an idol who could explore and play with any genre. Evidently, throughout the album, the tracks range from R’n’B, Funk, Gospel, and pure pop perfection. Not only did he want to challenge himself by playing with genre, but also language. All 11 tracks are sung in English encouraging him to leave his comfort zone, of which his pronunciation is crisp and impressive. For those of us familiar with listening to K-pop we know that language transcends barriers, and emotion is understood regardless of words.

 ‘Hate You’ is concrete evidence that this is true. He expertly conveys emotion, the piano ballad co-written by Shawn Mendes is a heart-rending track. One that finds forcing him to hate an ex, is easier to deal with the pain. It’s heartwrenching, yet a beautiful listen, and use’s his breathtaking voice to makes the song come to life, not only that but evokes such strong emotions on first listen. As a listener, you believe the heartbreak is fresh and raw, and a standout Jungkook special. 

Without a doubt, it showcases just why he is the golden maknae, his solo debut has shown the world the shining pop star he is. Be it singing in English or Korean he shines brightly at both, another thing that has been a wonderful thing to see during the BTS Chapter Two solo era. All the members have gone to express specific colors leading to a fun exploration of them as artists pulling from their own experiences.

Out of the seven, it is he who perhaps wanted to break out of a music genre expected of him. He's gone on to take bold approaches to aesthetics, his image and collaborating with several unexpected artists. All three of these have led to a side to him that surprised and delighted fans, the use of sexual themes in Seven and 3-D highlighted just what his solo debut set out to do, to play around with image. In a recent interview, he discusses his desire to move freely to chapter two “Jungkook back then was. Jungkook back then, and somehow, I became who I am right now. The one that’s making all the judgment calls is me, myself, at this very moment. I’m not thinking, Oh, I should break away from that cute image as the youngest member ... Lyrics are just lyrics, and images are images.” Adding that he chose love songs for their universality, and shouldn't be read as autobiographical. (1)

Golden has gone on to achieve that and more, allowing him to find his footing as a mature solo artist. This will transcend well into the next step where fans can expect the unexpected in what he plans to do next. Did you enjoy Golden? Let us know in the comments, be sure to follow KpopWise for all the latest on your favorite idols!

Kirsty Bright

A UK freelance writer, who stumbled into the land of Kpop while studying Korean. Her bias groups are BTS and Seventeen, but she loves a range of groups and finding new artists to listen to! Contact on Insta: @kirstybright_ Portfolio: kirstybright.journoportfolio.com

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