Ever since their debut, Stray Kids have not stopped for a second, and each year gets bigger and more exciting: 2021 wasn’t an exception at all. Yes, 2020 was massive for Stray Kids, but 2021 was even more huge. From Kingdom to the release of their second full-length album, here’s a rewind of their impressive year.
Their First Fan Meeting: #LOVESTAY
Stray Kids didn’t stop for a single second, and as soon as the year started they announced their first-ever fan meeting. Due to the conditions, it was an online-only event, but it didn’t take away from how special it was. We got exclusive performances like the first live performance of ‘Pacemaker’ as well as the 2021 version of ‘Spread My Wings.’ And of course, how can we forget the first time Stray Kids dressed up in SKZOO costumes and danced to ‘God’s Menu’ (and no, it wouldn’t be the last time they used those costumes).
This fan meeting was such a special and unforgettable moment and the perfect way to start the year.
Their First Collaboration: ‘Going Dumb’
2021 brought a lot of “firsts” for Stray Kids. One of those firsts was of course their first-ever collaboration with ‘Going Dumb.’ The group collaborated with the DJ Alesso and the producer CORSAK to create this incredibly catchy club anthem. It was a massive stepping stone for Stray Kids as artists. The song managed to get number 1 in iTunes in over 40 countries. At the time, this was their song with the most number 1 ever.
‘Going Dumb’ also entered Billboard‘s US Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart, debuting and peaking at number 13 and making Stray Kids one of the few Korean acts to ever enter that chart. The song ultimately charted at 46 in the Year-End Roundup of that same chart.
Needless to say, ‘Going Dumb’ did numbers and rightfully so. This was simply huge for Stray Kids, but it was only the beginning.
Kingdom: Legendary War
One of the biggest things that happened for Stray Kids is of course their participation in Kingdom: Legendary War. And not only were they one of the contestants, but they won.
Every round gave us beautiful, impactful and powerful performances that we could never forget. It was proof of Stray Kids’ immense work, talent and implication in their art. They gave us a mind-blowing mash-up of ‘God’s Menu’ and ‘Side Effects’ that no one couldn’t even begin to imagine. ‘I’ll Be Your Man‘ showed a more emotional side of them while their take on BLACKPINK’s ‘DDU-DU-DDU-DU’ was powerful and simply the definition of iconic. And how can we forget about ‘Wolfgang,’ one of their most unique songs ever.
The YouTube Content
During all that time, between the release of ‘Going Dumb’ and especially during Kingdom, Stray Kids never ceased to serve when it comes to content.
First of all, Stray Kids never stopped releasing music and covers through their series SKZ-Player and SKZ-Record. How could we forget about songs like ‘Maknae On Top?’ That series alone gave us so much to look forward to, and such iconic content.
They also started their own variety show with SKZ-Code at the beginning of the year, and it picked up again towards the end of the year. They also did a sort of cooking show with Mysterious Kitchen, and a variety show inspired by their song ‘Up All Night.’ In July, Stray Kids also started a series named SKZ Song Camp, where they formed different units to create new songs. And that, along with the release of ‘Mixtape: OH,’ would be our first hint to what would be next: their second full-length album, NOEASY.
Their Second Full-length Album: NOEASY
After almost a year without a comeback, our expectations were really high. NOEASY not only met those expectations but it exceeded them in every way possible.
There’s no other album that defines Stray Kids better than their second full-length album. It has everything anyone could want, from ballads to more energetic songs, to EDM, to songs full of hope, to every single genre you could think of. Something Stray Kids have always been amazing at is taking inspiration from different genres and making it theirs. Because yes, if there’s something out there that proves that Stray Kids are the genre themselves, it’s NOEASY. It was witty and unapologetic, yet comforting and simply a perfect release.
And it was a success. It was already promising when ‘Mixtape: OH‘ was released more than a month before and it was their first song to reach the top of Billboard‘s Digital Single Chart. And that was only the beginning because, indeed, NOEASY is to date the best selling album from JYP Entertainment in history. It also sold over 1 million copies officially turning Stray Kids into a million sellers. It is not only the only album by a fourth-gen group to reach those sales, but it is also one of the best selling albums of the years altogether. And it is more than deserved.
In every single way possible, NOEASY is Stray Kids at its finest.
And how could we possibly talk about NOEASY without talking about the success that was ‘Thunderous?’
Stray Kids were out for blood with this one. They were louder than ever and overdid themselves in ways that no one could’ve seen coming. ‘Thunderous’ was a powerful, impactful and unapologetic song to say the least. The song was not only a musical masterpiece with its witty lyrics and it’s catchy and varied melodies, but it was also a huge success. ‘Thunderous‘ is to date Stray Kids’ song with the most music shows wins – six in total. It earned them wins in music shows they had never won before: Music Bank and Inkigayo. And remember ‘Going Dumb’ getting number 1 in iTunes in over 40 countries? Well, ‘Thunderous’ got over 50.
In terms of sound, choreography, concept, music video, and everything about it, ‘Thunderous’ was simply the perfect comeback after almost a year without a comeback. It was huge in every way possible. That song was everywhere, and so were Stray Kids.
The single album included the Japanese version of ‘Thunderous’ as well as a fun yet lyrically quite sad song called ‘CALL.’ But more importantly, there was ‘Scars.’ This song felt fresh and new all while being quite reminiscent of previous releases such as ‘Hellevator’ or ‘Levanter.’ It was personal, and it was raw and simply amazing. ‘Scars‘ was also very different from their previous Japanese release, ‘ALL IN,’ and every single song they released this year. Throughout this year, Stray Kids never stopped showing growth, diversity in their music and talent as artists.
But the releases don’t stop here because 2021 gave us something else that was very special: Stray Kids’ first ever Christmas release.
Christmas EveL was their first Korean single album and it was released as a gift for the holidays. The title track could not be described as anything other than the perfect mix between Christmas and Stray Kids. The song even earned them a win on Music Bank even though the song wasn’t performed on music shows. As b-sides we got a Christmas carol, ’24 to 25,’ and sad break-up song, ‘Winter Falls,’ as well as the English version of ‘DOMINO.’
It was something that Stray Kids had never tried before and yet they pulled it off so well. Just like any release: it was witty, it was catchy, and yes, again, they went viral. It brought such joy in everyone’s life and it was the perfect way to end the year.
Leaders Of The 4th Gen
If there’s one thing we can say about this year when it comes to Stray Kids is that they established themselves as a staple in the K-Pop industry. After this year, Stray Kids is not only one of the biggest names in the fourth generation of K-Pop but they’re also one of the biggest names in K-Pop in general right now.
They were nominated in various categories at this years’ MAMAs, which was their first nominations since 2018. And needless to say, they delivered one of the best and most impactful performances of this year’s ceremony. And more importantly, they won their first daesang at the 2021 Asian Artists Awards for Best Performance with ‘Thunderous,’ thus making them the first-ever fourth-gen boy group to win a daesang.
They remained the most followed fourth-gen group on Instagram and most social media platforms. And they also hold the peak for most monthly listeners on Spotify for a fourth-gen boy group. This year alone, ‘Thunderous’ and ‘My Pace’ reached 100 million views, while ‘Back Door‘ and ‘God’s Menu‘ hit 200 million views.
All throughout the year, Stray Kids put immense work into every single one of their releases as well as their performances and everything they touched. And we can strongly affirm that it isn’t just that Stray Kids’ year was their biggest year ever, but in 2021, they made history. And they will probably continue doing it next year.
What do you think has been Stray Kids biggest achievement in 2021? What has been your favorite release by them this year? Be sure to let us know by tweeting us at @thehoneypop or visiting us on Facebook and Instagram.
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Featured image source: JYP Entertainment