No one can deny that 2020 has been a long year, but thankfully Stray Kids made it better with their music and so much more. This was their year for sure. With a world tour, two albums, their Japanese debut, and more: needless to say, Stray Kids has been busy. And we’re here to look back at their 2020!
Stray Kids’ World Tour ‘District 9: Unlock’
This year has been so long we tend to forget what happened before everything got turned upside down. But after the release of Clé: LEVANTER and their first-ever proper concert in Seoul, Stray Kids announced their first-ever world tour. The tour was supposed to include the US, Europe, Philipines, and much more. However, because of the crisis, most of the dates were, of course, canceled. But Stray Kids did get to do the US leg of the tour, including New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, San Jose, Atlanta, Dallas, and Chicago. It was accompanied by the release of the English version of ‘Double Knot’ and ‘Levanter.’
Even though the tour was cut short, it was still such a massive milestone. And we’re sure that they’ll get to have a much bigger world tour once the crisis is over.
SKZ-Player & SKZ-Record
Even with a canceled world tour and no comebacks, Stray Kids never let us get bored especially with the release of SKZ-Player and SKZ-Record all throughout the year.
This YouTube series allowed fans to see a different side of the members, whether it was covers, choreography, or original songs – Stray Kids never stop our excitement. Through this format, this year alone, we’ve gotten 15 videos and/or songs. Bang Chan released a dance cover of 2PM’s ‘My House’ and an original song. Changbin released ‘Streetlight’ featuring Bang Chan and a music video, and ‘Cypher’ later on. Han released two songs: ‘Close’ with a video, and ‘I GOT IT.’ He also collaborated with Seungmin for a cover of DAY6’s ‘Congratulations,’ and Seungmin released three covers on his own. I.N also released a cover in November. Hyunjin released a video of a choreography he made for Billie Eilish’s ‘when the party’s over,’ and the latest SKZ-Player is Hyunjin’s first original song. And of course, we can’t forget the songs they wrote for Two Kids Songs.
To summarize, this platform and YouTube allowed them to show us different sides of themselves, and they gave us constant content throughout the year. Stray Kids was there every step of the way, with us!
Japanese Debut & More!
In March 2020, Stray Kids had their official debut in Japan with the release of SKZ2020. The album not only counted with the Japanese version of their biggest hits like ‘My Pace’ and ‘MIROH,’ but they also recorded most of their songs and gave us an OT8 version of it.
But that was far from being the only Japanese release of the year for Stray Kids. Not long after, they released two OST for the anime Tower of God, with ‘TOP’ and ‘Slump.’ Both songs were released in three versions: Japanese, Korean, and English. These were the first songs to be originally released in Japanese, and it showed their versatility, mixing rock and EDM influences perfectly.
Not even counting the Korean releases, one can tell Stray Kids was releasing song after song, and we loved it. But for as much as the Japanese releases were incredible, and the content they dropped on YouTube kept us busy and amazed by their talent: it doesn’t stand even close to being their biggest release this year.
First Full-Length Album: GO LIVE
At the end of May, it was announced that not only Stray Kids would be having their first comeback of the year, which followed their most extended period without a comeback, but it also would be with their very first full-length album. GO LIVE started to be teased by the end of May and had everyone very hyped, but no one was ready for what it would be for Stray Kids.
The album sold over 127,000 copies in the first week. It was their first release ever to go Platinum, which happened in August of this year!
The album had ten new songs, the Korean version of ‘TOP’ and ‘Slump,’ as well as their mix-tapes released earlier: ‘Gone Days‘ and ‘On Track.’ However, the real star of the show was, of course, ‘God’s Menu.’
To say this was Stray Kids’ most iconic era feels short. The song left such a mark on everyone and made their fan base almost double its size, especially in Korea. If you didn’t know about Stray Kids before, you did now, or at least ‘God’s Menu.’ With the addictive chorus and witty choreography, it isn’t an exaggeration to say this was one of the most iconic songs of 2020.
Not only ‘God’s Menu’ was Stray Kids’ first music video to get 100M views, but it also quickly became the most viewed music video by a 4th generation boy group. The music video has a current count of almost 165M views. With this milestone, Stray Kids became one of the only three boy groups to have a music video reach 100M this year, and the second boy group with BTS to have a music video released this year achieve this. And it also won an award at the Asian Artists Awards for Best Male Music Video.
Even though the song didn’t chart and didn’t have a win, it’s one of the most memorable songs of the year for sure, and it put Stray Kids into a whole other level. The impact of their album and ‘God’s Menu’ was more than evident with the release of their repackage album: IN LIFE.
Repackaged Album: IN LIFE
In August, Stray Kids announced their second and last Korean comeback in 2020: IN LIFE, their first album repackage. The album had eight new songs, including three subunits that had been performed during their concerts.
From the start, it was evident how much growth they had gone through, with the trailer reaching almost 2M views in only 24 hours, as opposed to the trailer for GO LIVE which at the time had around the same amount of views, three months after its release. IN LIFE sold over 233,000 copies in the first week of its release, almost doubling GO LIVE’s first week sales. The repackage not only became Stray Kids’ second album to go Platinum, but it also became their best selling album yet.
And once again, the title track, ‘Back Door’, was a big part of their success.
‘Back Door’ was truly what showed Stray Kids’ growth better than anything. Not only when it came to their fan base but also when it comes to their sound. With an impressive and original choreography deeply influenced by musicals, and a song that mixed different genres such as jazz, they created a true masterpiece.
The song earned them two music show wins, being their first song to have more than one win. It was the highest-ranking song by a 4th gen boy group on Genie, as it ranked four times on the top 5, peaking at number 2.
‘Back Door’ did nothing but reaffirm that Stray Kids weren’t a one-hit type of group, and they are here to stay.
First Online Concert: UNLOCK: Go Live In Life
After the end of the ‘Back Door’ era, Stray Kids had their first online concert. Even though they performed in several online shows, such as the first KCon, and held showcases online on the day of each album’s release, this was their first proper online concert. The set-list resembled the one for their world tour, but it included newer songs such as ‘Blueprint’ and ‘Ex.’ They also revealed the Korean version of ‘ALL IN’ and they performed for the first time ever ‘TA.’
Overall, the concert was just the result of all their hard work during 2020. And with their energy and talent, they made one of the most memorable online shows of the year.
Yes. During 2020, Stray Kids became even more known in Korea and gained the general public’s attention. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t have success in the west as well!
This year, Stray Kids received their first-ever western award, winning Best Korean Act at the EMAs. ‘Back Door’ also made it on several year-end ranking of songs by magazines such as Paper (at number 2) and Dazed (at number 5). But what’s even more memorable is the Time listing ‘Back Door’ at number 8 in the 10 Best Songs of 2020, making Stray Kids the first-ever K-pop boy group to be included in the list. Time also listed IN LIFE as one of the albums that defined Kpop this year, and we couldn’t agree more.
Leaders Of The 4th Gen
After this insane year, there’s no use denying that Stray Kids is clearly one of the leaders of the 4th generation of Kpop.
This year, they became the fourth most followed Kpop group on Instagram with over 10M followers and the second boy group to get to 10M followers. They were the fourth most listened to Kpop group and second boy group in 2020 with over 990M streams. ‘God’s Menu’ and ‘Back Door’ were also the most streamed songs by a 4th gen boy group in 2020. Stray Kids are also the best selling 4th gen boy group in 2020 in Gaon, being 5th on 2020 Top Album Sales for Male Artists and 9th overall with over 960,000 albums sold.
And coming back to YouTube, ‘God’s Menu’ is not only the most viewed music video by a 4th gen boy group, but it was also the fastest to get to 100M. The second fastest music video to reach 100M by a 4th gen boy group is none other than ‘Back Door,’ making them the first 4th gen boy group to have multiple music videos over 100M. This year, they also reached this milestone with their 2019 release, ‘MIROH.’
In other words, the numbers don’t lie: Stray Kids have had an immense impact, and they’re clearly one of the leaders of the fourth generation!
Additionally, to their award for Best Male Music Video for ‘God’s Menu’ at the Asian Artists Awards, Stray Kids was also awarded at the TMA for Global Hottest. But their appearances at the year-end awards are especially memorable for their performances. Each time they’ve performed, changing concepts and adding new elements to their performance.
But the most special one was by far Stray Kids’ performance at the MAMAs. They were part of a performance along with The Boyz and ATEEZ, and they performed their 2019 B-side: ‘Victory Song.’ With a warrior concept, they totally rearranged the song and owned the stage. It’s one of the most viewed performances of the MAMAs on YouTube with over 4M views. The performance ended with the announcement that all three groups would take part in Mnet’s 2021 Kingdom.
So, there’s already something to look forward to next year when it comes to Stray Kids. And as much as this was by far Stray Kids’ best year yet, the chances are that 2021 will be even more significant for them, and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for us!
What’s your favorite Stray Kids memory of 2020? What are you hoping for from them next year? Let us know down in the comments below or by tweeting us @TheHoneyPOP!
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Featured Image Source: JYP Entertainement via Stray Kids’ Twitter Account (@Stray_Kids)