[SHOWCASE] 'All we think about is how to improve': Stray Kids are 'Rock-Stars' in new album
Stray Kids has certainly made great leaps in the K-pop scene. A dozen ingredients could be included in their recipe to success, but members chose one particular element as key: tenacity.
“It’s quite embarrassing to say this myself,” Changbin said when asked by a reporter Friday what members thought the reason was for Stray Kids’ popularity around the world. “But I believe that [our fan club] Stay like us for our members' uniqueness and the distinctive characteristics that we all have. We’re very grateful for that love, and we plan on keeping up our tenacious music with a strong spine.”
The press conference was held for the band’s eighth EP “樂-STAR,” which was released Friday at 2 p.m. “樂-STAR,” also stylized as “Rock-Star,” comes as the band’s newest EP in five months, following the release of its third full-length album "★★★★★(5-STAR)."
Sharing the same "STAR" title, the newest album is all about highlighting the “rock star” spirit of Stray Kids and sharing the joy that comes from the upbeat music genre.
“We’ve had a really busy year this year, but we prepared ‘Rock-Star’ for Stay amid all our schedules,” Bangchan said.
Eight tracks are featured in the album, including lead track “Rock,” “Megaverse,” “Leave” and more. “Rock” was written by 3RACHA, the music producing subunit within Stray Kids famed for helming all of the band’s popular songs. There is not one song by Stray Kids where at least one member of 3RACHA — comprised of members Bangchan, Changbin and Han — has not taken part in its making.
“One of the hardest things as a producer is that we always have to show something new as Stray Kids,” Changbin said.
“I’m fully aware of people’s expectations, which do weigh heavy on my shoulders. Had I been alone in all this, then I would have been beaten down already. But I talk with the other 3RACHA members about what we want and can do well, and that’s allowed me to grow together with them, instead of coming to my limit.”
This year has certainly been a rock-star and five-star year for Stray Kids.
Its “5-STAR” album sold 4.61 million copies within the first week of its release, the highest first-week sales figure for any K-pop album at the time. In the same month, the band also headlined Lollapalooza Paris, a first for any K-pop act, and took home the Best K-Pop trophy at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards in September.
Stray Kids has topped the Billboard 200 albums chart with all of its past three albums: “Oddinary” (2022), “Maxident” (2022) and “5-STAR.” The band was also chosen as one of the Next Generation Leaders by the American news magazine TIME last month.
The band completed its “5-STAR Dome Tour” on Oct. 29 after performing in five different dome stadiums around Japan and Korea. Having performed in some of the largest venues in Japan, Stray Kids became the first fourth-generation K-pop band to hold concerts at the four Japanese domes, according to JYP Entertainment.
Stray Kids attracted more than 38,000 people at its Nagoya concert, 45,000 at the Osaka performance and around 50,000 people per day at the boy band’s finale concert held at the Tokyo Dome.
“I remember the first showcase at Jangchung Arena,” Hyunjin said. “There's a moment when we enter each music venue and get to look at the empty space, which at the moment seems so big. It makes us think, ‘Can we really fill this huge space?’ Then we see our Stay filling up every seat, and that’s when everything starts to feel so precious and fulfilling.”
Stray Kids is an eight-member boy band that debuted in 2018 under JYP Entertainment and is considered one of the most successful boy bands in K-pop.
Ever since its debut with "District 9" (2018), the band has been particularly popular among overseas fans with its strong-beat, electronic-slash-hip-hop style that global fans tend to prefer.
The band is also known for being "self-produced," meaning that all members participate in the song-making process and that the bandmates were put together by leader Bang Chan, who hand-picked each member, instead of the agency's founder Park Jin-young.
“The decision to start music didn’t come easy for me,” Seungmin said.
“But having thought long and hard, I wish to make it worthwhile and do it for a long time. And I will do this for a long time. I’ve said this before, but I don’t think that a bigger music venue means that we’re getting better. All we think about is how to improve ourselves so that the fans go home feeling they’ve had an unforgettable experience.”
BY YOON SO-YEON [firstname.lastname@example.org]