Comeback after comeback, Stray Kids never cease to grow as artists by perfecting their already flawless discography. After the massive success of 5-STAR, Stray Kids are back with their new mini-album ROCK-STAR, and it is once again a masterpiece – not that we expected anything less. With anthems worth blasting at full volume, vulnerable and raw songs, and everything in between, ROCK-STAR is already a massive moment in Stray Kids’ history.
Let’s break down this absolute masterpiece!
ROCK-STAR opens up with arguably one of Stray Kids’ most impactful opening songs. And if you know Stray Kids’ discography, you know that’s a strong statement. ‘MEGAVERSE‘ introduces you to Stray Kids in all its shapes and forms. It’s an absolute anthem that celebrates their work, their art, their unique style, and the Stray Kids genre. The song feels fresh with new elements we haven’t seen in their discography before. Yet, it also includes elements that are staples of Stray Kids’ music and elements key to their early days, like the EDM drop lowkey reminiscent of the Clé series.
After its unveil video was released, Stray Kids premiered the entire song at the Seoul stop of their 5-STAR Dome Tour. ‘MEGAVERSE’ is already a song that sounds massive, but the performance made it even more grand and insane. And there is always something special about songs that make us shout ‘Stray Kids’ at the top of our lungs. ‘MEGAVERSE’ is the perfect introduction to Stray Kids’ music universe.
‘락 (樂) (LALALALA)’
Even though ROCK-STAR is a masterpiece from A to Z, of course, we must look more carefully at the star of the show: the title track. Its English title is ‘LALALALA’ but its Korean name, ‘락,’ is pronounced like ‘ROCK.’ The Korean title refers to the Chinese character ‘樂,’ which means ‘pleasure.’ And that is what ‘LALALALA’ is all about – pleasure. ‘LALALALA’ definitely makes you want to celebrate life.
‘LALALALA’ was initially meant to be a b-side in 5-STAR until the recording, where they decided it had to be a title track. And they were so right. Stray Kids are their own genre; to put this song into one single case would be impossible. This song has it all. It’s one of their most anthem-like songs ever, combined with a rhythmic beat and an addictive production. The build-up is absolutely insane as it explodes in the last part, and it’s everything. ‘LALALALA’ is that type of song that fills you with energy just by listening to it. Every part of the song is extremely dynamic. They serve, as always, some of the best rap verses ever, but the track also has amazing vocal moments. ‘LALALALA’ has it all and is a blast to listen to from start to finish.
Everything about ‘LALALALA’ has to be grandiose. The music video for ‘LALALALA’ is one of the biggest productions ever, with aesthetics and hidden meanings that will make you rewatch it endlessly.
And we have to take a minute to talk about that choreography because it adds so much to the song. Some of the highlights would, of course, be the opening where they mark every single beat with their body (it’s actually insane), Changbin’s move during Han‘s verse, the addictive and energetic chorus, the Danceracha part at the beginning of the second verse and everything in between. The choreography for ‘LALALALA’ is mindblowing in every second. On top of that, ‘LALALALA’ includes other dancers on stage, and it makes the performance all the more massive.
‘LALALA (Rock Ver.)’
And because it’s rock, Stray Kids didn’t miss the chance to make it actually rock. The rock version of ‘LALALALA’ closes off ROCK-STAR in the best way possible. They weren’t content with only a couple of drums and electric guitars. No. Stray Kids went all out, turning the rhythmic ‘LALALALA’ into a lowkey post-hardcore song. The instrumental really goes hard; they didn’t take the rock version slightly at all. It elevates the song to another level, and it’s one for the rock enjoyers. The Punk goes Pop series has been revived today.
‘BLIND SPOT’ is another song that Stray Kids premiered at their Unveil 13 concert in Seoul at the end of October. It’s arguably the most upbeat pop-influenced song in ROCK-STAR, with its bright and uplifting melody. It has some of their best and most interesting melodies in the verse, and it really showcases their vocals in an upbeat song.
Despite the first impression you might get, ‘BLIND SPOT’ is quite a vulnerable song where they sing about overcoming hardships as artists. ‘BLIND SPOT’ is about the endless cycle of trying to become someone and people judging you for it. It’s a song for anyone who works hard and has a message to give to the world, for anyone who needs to hear that they’re going somewhere, and anyone who needs a pat in the back. The lyrics in the bridge, “The light I created will eventually be revealed,” sums it up pretty well.
Now, ‘COMFLEX’ is a perfect example of Stray Kids’ usual play on words. This time, they combined the words ‘complex’ and ‘flex.’ It is all in the title: they switch the narrative where what could be flaws or what could make them insecure is actually what makes them so unique. They’re vulnerable in a much different way in this one. ‘COMFLEX’ is energetic, overflowing with confidence, tied with a unique production that can only be described with Stray Kids’ own genre. What makes this song all the more special is the drop. It’s fun, it’s addictive, it’s sassy, and it’s absolutely everything. It will get stuck in your head in the best way possible.
This song was written and composed by Hyunjin and Bang Chan, and it is the first OT8 song written by Hyunjin included in a Korean release. Of course, he’s behind some fan favorites like ‘Red Lights’ and ‘Taste,’ and earlier this year, he produced a b-side in THE SOUND, ‘DLMLU,’ and has given us amazing solo songs. But ‘Cover Me’ is nothing like these other songs.
It is hard to put into words all the emotions conveyed in ‘Cover Me.’ This pop-rock ballad is a massive highlight in ROCK-STAR and Stray Kids’ entire discography. ‘Cover Me‘ is about loneliness and all the emotions of it are explored in such heartbreaking yet masterful imagery throughout the song. The melodies are gorgeous and addictive, and the members’ voices shine beautifully. The last chorus makes us elevate into the sky, that’s how serious it is to us. It’s a song everyone needs to experience. And with its emotional, nostalgic, OST-like sound, it is no wonder they included this song in SKZFLIX.
Another song that was, of course, included in SKZFLIX was ‘Leave,’ which is a song they also performed for the first time during their Seoul concert. It’s also a ballad, this time written by Changbin and Bang Chan. As you might have guessed by its name, ‘Leave’ is about parting ways with someone you love and all the complex emotions that come with it. ‘Leave‘ is the perfect song for the fall with the acoustic guitar, the chill melody, and the feelings of nostalgia. It really recreates that in-between of the fall season. Its title is even a play on words between the verb of leaving and the plural noun of leaf. And nothing screams fall more than a fallen leaf. Let’s just say Changbin truly never fails with his ballads.
‘Social Path (Korean Ver.)’ ft. LiSA
A couple of months ago, we got Stray Kids’ second Japanese comeback of the year with two title tracks: the Japanese version of ‘Super Bowl‘ and, of course, ‘Social Path.’ We knew it was a matter of time before we got the Korean version, and here it is. ‘Social Path‘ is a truly special song to Stray Kids, where they sing about the sacrifices and battles they had to overcome in order to debut and be where they are. The lines “gave up my youth for my future” never fail to hit. It is one of their most personal songs. And its rock sound fits perfectly in ROCK-STAR. Their story is an important one to tell, and here it is.
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