Right on the first days of 2022, Stray Kids teased in their ‘Step Out‘ video, the release of an album that would compile their songs from their series SKZ-Record and SKZ-Player. It’s been a long time coming, but it is finally here! And they didn’t just release those songs that we’ve loved for months (or even years for some), but also Stray Kids just released their first official solo songs. It’s everything we’ve ever wanted and so much more. Believe us, Stray Kids’ SKZ-REPLAY will definitely be on replay for days.
Stray Kids(스트레이 키즈) <SKZ-REPLAY>
Released on Spotifyhttps://t.co/0yneSrNIYw
— Stray Kids (@Stray_Kids) December 21, 2022
This album is divided into two parts: A-Side and B-Side. The A-Side is composed of mostly their brand new solo songs – one for each member. But this first part of the album has also the Korean version of their 2020 Japanese b-side: ‘FAM.’ This version was first revealed during their unveil concert in Korea prior to the release of MAXIDENT and ‘Case 143.’ In case you didn’t know this song before, this is a fun type of guide to Stray Kids. Each member sings a verse about another member, and it’s filled with inner jokes all while being accompanied by a catchy and addictive melody. This is peak Stray Kids energy – their sitcom song if you will.
Additionally, they released ‘#LoveSTAY.’ This OT8 song was released a year ago as a gift to stays. It is one of their most heartfelt songs. It’s nostalgic yet comforting, and one of Stray Kids’ most special songs ever released.
Following ‘Fam,’ Stray Kids released a solo song for each member. Of course every member participated heavily in the creation of their song, and it shows. The songs are ordered by the age of the members – that’s to say the first song is Bang Chan’s: ‘Connected.’ It’s a song quite different from the rest thanks to its summery, pop-EDM vibe. And the second verse is absolutely everything – Bang Chan’s voice sounds incredible all throughout the song but especially this part. This man isn’t just an impressive producer, he’s also an incredible vocalist and it shows. ‘Limbo’ by Lee Know is one of the best things to come out of this release. This man has such a beautiful and versatile voice, and we couldn’t wait to see it fully shine in his first solo song. And that’s exactly what happened. With a rock influence to it, ‘Limbo’ makes Lee Know’s voice sound more powerful than ever before and we see shine every part of his extremely versatile voice – the soft side, the power, the falsettos.
Changbin’s solo song, ‘DOODLE,’ is explosive, to say the least. He went insane with this one. His rap, his tone, his flow – everything is so on point. This is for real an unforgettable song. It also helps that the refrain is so addictive and overflowing with confidence. Changbin has never been more confident in a song and we’re obsessed with this energy. ‘Love Untold’ is Hyunjin’s solo song. With a hint of pop with hip-hop, this is arguably the best Hyunjin’s solo song until now – we’ll get into his other songs later. The longing, the heartbreak, and the beauty of these lyrics are simply indescribable.
We’re no strangers to Han’s solo songs – a lot of his solo songs were released digitally in SKZ-REPLAY. While ‘Run’ might sound upbeat at first, in this song, Han opens up about his struggles and fears. His lyricism is on point as always and it simply hits. ‘Run’ is another great addition to what you could call Han-pop. One of the most surprising songs is for sure Felix’s song. While he had spoiled that it was an all-sang sad song, ‘Deep End’ is still surprising. This is a beautiful piano ballad that explores all the extensive range Felix has. While he is most known for his deep tone when rapping, he also excels at singing and has an incredible range – he goes from the lowest tone possible to a beautiful falsetto. ‘Deep End’ shows exactly that through a truly painful song with a heavenly production.
‘Stars And Raindrops’ screams Seungmin’s name in every way possible. This is truly such a good embodiment of Seungmin’s style – as a musician and as a vocalist. While the song doesn’t sound that sad, the lyrics are heartbreaking and bittersweet. It’s a song full of nostalgia and raw emotions. You can totally tell Seungmin’s favorite band is DAY6 with this one. And finally, I.N’s ‘Hug Me’ might start slow but it quickly picks up into this fun, bright and uplifting song. It’s soft and full of love, exploring the softer side of his voice. No pun intended but this one literally feels like a hug. And it’s the perfect transition to ‘#LoveSTAY’ – the last song in the A-Side of Stray Kids’ SKZ-REPLAY.
When this album was announced at the beginning of 2022, we expected the release on streaming platforms of the songs that Stray Kids released only through YouTube. And that’s exactly what happened. These songs were released through the years – the oldest one dating back to 2018 and the most recent one being released mids 2022. There are two sections SKZ-Player and SKZ-Record – “Player” indicates that there’s a video to accompany the song, while “Record” is just the audio.
This platform allowed the members to explore their skills as singer-song writers. That’s to say that most of the credits in the B-sides of SKZ-REPLAY are all from Stray Kids’ members. We do love a good self-produced group. These are songs that are so dear to the members as well as the fandom and we can’t wait to finally stream them. From sad songs to more upbeat songs, Stray Kids have explored so much with this platform and we love to see it.
Stray Kids(스트레이 키즈) <SKZ-REPLAY>
2022.12.21 WED 6PM (KST) | 4AM (EST)
— Stray Kids (@Stray_Kids) December 15, 2022
This series started back in 2018 with three videos – one for each sub-unit. While Vocalracha covered JJ Project’s ‘Tomorrow, Today,’ and Danceracha performed a choreography, 3RACHA released ‘ZONE.’ And this is the first song in SKZ-REPLAY’s B-Side. The original version already hits so hard, but this new, remastered, version is absolutely everything. This is all the energy we love from 3RACHA – with an unforgettable beat, irreplicable flows, and just the best of the best when it comes to rap.
‘Close,’ ‘Streetlight’ and ‘miss you’ are three SKZ-Players that were released in 2020. ‘Close’ is a song by Han inspired by the movie Hello Stranger. It is an energetic and addictive pop love song. Meanwhile, ‘Streetlight’ is one of Changbin’s darker songs. He raps and sings about his struggles with opening up and relying on the people next to him. It’s truly raw and so painful to listen to – yet so special to so many people. ‘miss you’ is the first song Hyunjin released on his own. It’s a soft and sweet song dedicated to his dog who passed away.
But these aren’t just solo songs. By now, the only reason you wouldn’t know about ‘Maknae On Top’ is because you’ve been living under a rock. The song was released in early 2021 and it took over the internet. While the song features Bang Chan, Changbin, and I.N, this is truly I.N’s song. Well, the song is literally about him. It’s a type of sound that they hadn’t tried before and it is one of the best things they’ve ever released – hands down.
‘Up All Night’ is another unit song – with Bang Chan, Changbin, Felix, and Seungmin. And this one falls under the same spectrum of musical influences as ‘Maknae On Top.’ it is actually the first song Bang Chan ever produced and while it changed through the year, it remains an incredibly special song. Also, how could we forget how they release a Halloween-themed music video in June?
The last song in the album to originally be a SKZ-Player is ‘Drive.’ With a hip-hop and more mature sound, ‘Drive’ is one of a kind in Stray Kids’ discography with its witty lyrics. It featured Bang Chan and Lee Know, and let’s say that this song has left its mark.
Through SKZ-Record, the members have released several songs but also covers. While ‘i hate to admit’ wasn’t the first SKZ-Record, it was the first original song to be released through this format. This is a piano ballad by Bang Chan that still to this day breaks our heart. The emotions and vocals are so raw and incredible.
‘Wish You Back’ and ‘Happy’ are two songs by Han released in the first months of 2021 – they both touch on similar topics but have different approaches. ‘Wish You Back’ might seem upbeat but it’s also full of solace and pain. He wrote it by imagining an alternative ending to the movie Your Name where they wouldn’t get a happy ending. While ‘Wish You Back’ is about the yearning to get someone back, ‘Happy’ is more about finally letting go and wishing them the best all while remaining in pain.
Han also released ‘Alien’ at that time – a song that touches on a much different topic. Here, he explores the topic of loneliness and feeling alienated from everyone else. This is an extremely raw and personal song, and while it might be sad, it also brings an immense amount of comfort to anyone that hears it.
In another totally different vibe, another song by Han in SKZ-REPLAY is ‘I GOT IT.’ While in the other songs he shows off his skills as a rapper and also a singer, this one is solely focused on his rap. And the wit of these lyrics is quite amazing. He’s amazing at sad songs, but let’s not forget that he is an insane rapper. And he’s incredible at what he does.
Just like in SKZ-Player, we got a few sub-unit songs thanks to SKZ-Record: ‘Because’ and ‘Piece of a Puzzle.’ ‘Because’ was released for white day in South Korea and it’s by Changbin and Felix. It’s a sweet and soft love song. Very straightforward and so heartwarming. Meanwhile, ‘Piece of a Puzzle’ is a unit song between Changbin and Seungmin. This is an incredible pop song that serves as such comfort. It mixes Seungmin’s powerful vocals and Changbin’s impactful rap. And everything ties together through their incredible lyricism.
‘ice.cream’ is the last song in SKZ-REPLAY, and the latest song Stray Kids have released through this format. This second Hyunjin song is a soft bittersweet love song – it travels through the ideas of love in a truly unique way. His soft voice clashes with the pain of the lyrics and create such an amazing song.
SKZ-REPLAY is one of Stray Kids’ most special releases until now. While we finally got the release of the songs we’ve loved since their release on streaming platforms, we also got official solo songs. And we’re loving every single one of them. This release has allowed the members to express themselves individually even more through music and that has to be one of our favorite things about Stray Kids in general. SKZ-REPLAY is arguably the most Stray Kids album they’ve ever released. This is Stray Kids.
What’s your favorite solo song? What’s the song you’re the most excited about having in all streaming platforms?
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