After Stray Kids’ massive success in 2021, we were bracing ourselves for what would come next – and indeed, Stray Kids took the world by storm in 2022! They pushed themselves to a whole new level and made history. There is now no way anyone doesn’t know Stray Kids’ name. And we’re here to remember the key moment of Stray Kids’ year!
Dubai Expo 2020
Stray Kids started the year at a high – to say the least. They performed at the 2020 Dubai Expo in January after being named ambassadors of the Korean exposition in 2021. It was their first schedule outside of Korea since 2020, and of course, it was a huge deal. They performed a set of their most-known songs in front of international stays for the first time in years. The Dubai Expo was a big deal not only because of that but also because Stray Kids got to perform ‘Thunderous’ in front of South Korea’s president at the time. So yes, Stray Kids were starting the year big.
2nd #LoveSTAY “SKZ’s Chocolate Factory”
In February 2022, Stray Kids held their second fan meeting – ‘SKZ’s Chocolate Factory.’ It was held for two days in front of Stays in the Olympic Hall in Seoul, and it was the first time Stray Kids held any type of event offline. But one of the days was also transmitted online through Beyond Live. The fan meeting was a lot of fun for everyone, with Jaejae as an MC and with brand new performances like ‘Silent Cry’ and their cover of EXO’s ‘Call Me Baby.’ But what was even more exciting was when at the end of the second day, Stray Kids premiered the trailer for ODDINARY – their first release of 2022.
Stray Kids(스트레이 키즈) <SKZ-REPLAY>
2022.12.21 WED 6PM (KST) | 4AM (EST)
— Stray Kids (@Stray_Kids) December 15, 2022
Right from the start, ODDINARY had us all captivated with an intense and mysterious trailer – and, well, Hyunjin with red hair. And the more details were revealed, the more we were excited about this release. Something about the concept inspired by Frankenstein and the dark aesthetics surrounding it was top-tier. And the music did not let us down. ODDINARY is one of Stray Kids’ best releases to date – with EDM songs like ‘FREEZE,’ and the unforgettable ‘Charmer’ but also new sub-units songs with ‘Muddy Water’ and ‘Waiting For Us.’ And, of course, how could we forget the star of the show? ‘MANIAC’ remained throughout the year as one of the most iconic releases of 2022. ODDINARY showed Stray Kids exploring sounds we already knew from them and taking them to a whole other level.
Even before its announcement, the ODDINARY era was already looking good with the announcement that Stray Kids had signed with a US label – Republic Records. So we knew it would be bigger than ever. And indeed, thanks to their albums’ distribution in the US, ODDINARY reached number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart – making Stray Kids the third Korean act in history to achieve that. ‘MANIAC’ was a huge success as well. It earned Stray Kids 2 music show wins and reached number 1 on iTunes in 41 countries. Rolling Stones also named the song in their top 100 best songs of the year article. Stray Kids was starting the year with a bang, and it was only March.
2nd World Tour: MANIAC Tour
Part of the teasing of ODDINARY included the announcement of Stray Kids’ much-awaited second world tour: the MANIAC World Tour. It started with three dates in South Korea – the last one being extremely emotional for everyone – and they went on to perform in Japan and the US during the summer. Still, to this day, after almost eight months, the tour hasn’t ended yet. Stray Kids are doing dates in Asia and Oceania, then an encore in Japan and the US in 2023. In the setlist, they performed all the songs in ODDINARY, but they also performed their older and most loved songs. It’s been their biggest tour yet, and they’ve been giving their all every night to sold-out stadiums. This tour has been absolutely insane, from the setlist and the arrangements to the staging and the choreographies – truly insane.
Right before kicking off the Japanese leg of the tour, Stray Kids released their second Japanese mini-album in June. Circus included the Japanese version of both ‘MANIAC’ and ‘VENOM,’ but more importantly, it included three brand new songs. ‘Your Eyes’ is a soft song whose music video still lives rent-free in our minds. ‘Fairytale’ is an emotional and EDM song written by Han, while ‘Circus,’ the main single,’ is an energetic and addictive song. It’s also worth noting how unique and original ‘Circus’’ choreography is. It’s their most viewed Japanese music video with over 50M views, and the mini-album also peaked at number 2 on the Oricon Chart. The Japanese dates of their tour allowed Stray Kids to promote this release in various shows, and it was seriously the best thing ever.
‘Mixtape: Time Out’ & Other Releases
This year, to celebrate Stays’ anniversary, Stray Kids surprised us with a special song: ‘Mixtape: Time Out.’ This song was inspired by a trip they took all together at the beginning of the year during their time off. And indeed, it gave way to an energetic, cheerful, and fun song. ‘Mixtape: Time Out’ was also the pop-rock song we had been waiting for from them. It also reached number 1 on iTunes in over 20 countries.
But that’s not the only other release Stray Kids had separate from their comebacks – Korean or Japanese. Indeed, 3RACHA released two songs this year. They collaborated with the Japanese artist SKY-HI in ‘JUST BREATHE’ back in February and released in September ‘HEYDAY’ as part of the soundtrack for Mnet’s Street Men Fighters. Not long after, in October, we also got Seungmin’s second OST: ‘Close to You,’ this time for Business Proposal. And of course, how could we forget Felix’ featuring in Nayeon’s solo debut mini-album in the b-side ‘NO PROBLEM.’ All these releases were a massive success. These guys have been everywhere and this year opened so many different doors for them in the industry – it’s something we love to see. We can’t wait to see what other opportunities are waiting for them.
But of course, Stray Kids’ last big release of the year was their second mini-album of 2022: MAXIDENT. In this mini-album, Stray Kids explored the concept of love for the first time through a title track. Indeed, ‘Case 143’ was Stray Kids’ unique take on love, and it gave way to one of their best concepts ever. With unforgettable b-sides and new sub-unit songs, MAXIDENT is one of their most unique releases and a stand-out in their discography.
And this is also the mini-album that earned Stray Kids their second number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart – making them the first to top the chart in the same year since Taylor Swift. ‘Case 143’ also earned them six wins in Korean music shows, including three double crowns. MAXIDENT also holds the record for the most pre-ordered album by a 4th gen group with over 2M pre-orders – making it also JYP Entertainment’s first album to reach 2M sales. In November, MAXIDENT turned Stray Kids into three-million sellers, and it is today the second most-sold K-Pop album of 2022. And to think they reached 1M sales only a year ago… It goes to show Stray Kids’ immense growth.
Stray Kids’ Content
Throughout the year, Stray Kids gave us so much content apart from music, and we can’t forget about it. At the beginning of the year, they announced that the 2 Kids Room series would be coming back with 24 episodes – one episode for each pairing. It was fun to rediscover this series two years after its original ending. They also continued their SKZ-Code series and even documented their trip to Jeju Island with four episodes. They also released hilarious content for Chuseok. And Finding SKZ made a comeback this year with its third season for MAXIDENT’s promotion. Not only that, but during the MAXIDENT era, Stray Kids were literally everywhere. They participated in so many different variety shows – it’s nearly impossible to count them all. There wasn’t a second in this year to get bored – that’s for sure.
Stray Kids’ hard work this year didn’t go unnoticed. Stray Kids were one of the most anticipated acts at the Mnet’s Asian Music Awards, with the whole group performing on the first day and 3RACHA performing alongside the legendary Tiger JK and Jung Jaeil on the second day. They closed the show with their performance on the first day, delivering an incredible and mind-blowing performance of an ODDINARY b-side, ‘Venom,’ and ‘Maniac.’ And on the second day, 3RACHA opened the show by performing a beautiful slam-styled rap about the power of music.
They won three awards: one of the Worldwide’s Fan Choice Top 10 awards, the Yogibo Chill Artist award, and the award for the Most Popular Group. Additionally, we can’t ignore that Stray Kids were nominated for both Artist of the Year and Album of the Year with MAXIDENT less than two months after its release. However, MAXIDENT did win Album of the Year at the Asian Artist Awards making their second daesang ever – making Stray Kids the first and only fourth gen group to ever win Album of the Year in any award show. They also won one of the Best Choice Awards and performed ‘Charmer’ and ‘Case 143.’
The award season isn’t over yet, and they’re already stealing the show.
To end the year, Stray Kids released their long-awaited SKZ-REPLAY album that compiled the original songs they’ve released through the years on YouTube – including songs that are already iconic like ‘Maknae On Top’ and ‘Drive.’ And while that alone had us waiting all year for it, Stray Kids also surprised us with the release of their first solo songs!
The album was not only an amazing gift to Stays, but it also did amazingly in the charts. It even outcharted MAXIDENT to become Stray Kids’ second album with the most #1s on iTunes in 2022! What makes this release even more special is that it encompasses who Stray Kids truly are as a group, and even as individual artists. SKZ-REPLAY is the most Stray Kids album you could imagine, and it was the perfect way to wrap up this insane year.
Stray Kids went above and beyond any expectations and gave their everything to every single thing they did. This has been Stray Kids’ busiest and most successful year yet. But they keep surprising us, and no one can know just how big next year will be. There’s no stopping the force that is Stray Kids at this point.
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