Song of the Week delves into the fresh songs we just can’t get out of our heads. Find these tracks and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist, and for our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Stray Kids land their latest comeback with energetic single “S-Class.”
The members of K-pop group Stray Kids — Bang Chan, Lee Know, Changbin, Hyunjin, HAN, Felix, Seungmin, and I.N — possess the gift of transformation when they step onstage. In conversation or interviews, the band members are polite and sweet; their performance personas, however, are another story.
Stray Kids are known for making unapologetically noisy music (their 2021 record NOEASY poked fun at the criticism, with the album artwork confirming that they were very much in on the joke). Their in-house production team, 3RACHA, is made up of members Bang Chan, Changbin, and HAN, who also shape the band’s direction lyrically, with Bang Chan in particular leading the way.
Stray Kids’ music gives them room to be far more braggadocious or provocative than they might be offstage. Take 2022’s “3RACHA,” for example, in which HAN shrugs with the line, “Yeah, I’m famous,” or later when Bang Chan delivers, “Our copyrighted numbers won’t be ever stoppin’/ ‘Cause we still constructing, keep it comin’/ Why you mad?” (With nearly 100 songwriting credits to his name already, it’s a flex he’s able to back up.)
With their latest release, a full-length project titled 5-STAR, Stray Kids have broken a major record: Clocking in at 4.93 million pre-orders, it now holds the title of the most pre-ordered album in K-pop history. Anticipation was clearly high, and the lead single, “S-CLASS,” delivers all the energy for which the group is known. “They wonder how my spotlight is so bright,” Felix sings before the crew dives into a glitchy chorus and, later, drops into one of their best dance breaks.
As seriously as they take their work, there’s the other side of the coin with Stray Kids that leaves room for an abundance of silliness. Parts of the music video for “S-Class” are ridiculous — an alien attacks? Sure! Cute choreography in a stairwell being raided? Why not! It’s fun, it’s contagiously dynamic, and it verges on campy. Stray Kids’ star is continuing to rise, and they’re bringing us all up with them, seated in an S-Class — which, according to Seungmin, is the most luxurious place to be.
— Mary Siroky