Comeback – Stray Kids, “5-STAR”


June is shaping up to be an INSANE month for comebacks if you’re a multi-stan like me. And the first drop of the month? Stray Kids’ latest full album, 5-STAR.

Stray Kids is the first group that I really, really connected with when I got into K-pop, so I am always really excited to see new music from them. Even though it’s been just over a year since I started really getting into them, I feel like their popularity has just spiked drastically even since I became a fan – and good for them!

So let’s talk about the songs!

The album has 12 (!!!) songs total, 10 of which are brand new (Mixtape: Time Out was released for STAY day last year, and THE SOUND is the Korean version of the title track from their most recent Japanese album). The last time we saw this many songs on an album from them, it was Noeasy, with 14 songs, which came out in 2021.

1 – Hall of Fame
I LOVED the dramatic opening. You can tell right away that this is the lead-in to an album that celebrates Stray Kids and how far they’ve come. My only gripe about it is that the song seems…cut off somehow? Like it ends suddenly, I feel like it could have gone on a little more. But considering this is the intro to the album, maybe that’s why they did it?

2 – S-Class (title track)
They picked a good one as the TT for this album. It starts out with Changbin’s intense voice yelling out “This is Seoul city”, and goes hard the entire time. The MV released for it is just as large and bombastic as the lyrics, with sweeping panoramas of Seoul…and an alien octopus monster? Yet another unexpected MV from the group.

(The scene where Seungmin is dancing with his headphones on, while the monster causing chaos behind him, is my favorite part and makes me laugh every time I watch it. And Lee Know is just standing back there in his glittery pants like “Oh hell no, I ain’t dealing with this.”)

3 – ITEM
I absolutely love the 1980s video game blips and bleeps in this one. The lyrics talk about how the group doesn’t need tricks or special additions to make their music stand out, choosing to be self-dependent and let their music do the talking.

4 – Super Bowl
The first of two English songs on this album, this song…well. If you saw me booty-dancing in my house to this song, no you didn’t. It’s braggadocious, it’s loud, it’s proud, it’s giving a middle finger to everyone else with a bass beat, it’s like the English little brother to God’s Menu. I love listening to this in my car with the bass turned up.
Every time they drop the line of “Our dish here’s so bussin’” though, I just laugh. Mostly because it sounds just a smidge more like “Oh this shit’s so bussin’” to me, and I like that more. But also…bussin lol.
Also…can they not with the whispering? I can’t, y’all. I cannot.

5 – Topline (feat. Tiger JK)
I ADORE that they got Tiger JK to join them on this. After them dropping his name in Heyday, then partnering with him for the 2022 MAMA Awards, I feel like this is the culmination of their connection. And I just know that they were all so very excited to work with him, since he’s a legendary Korean rapper.
If “bom digi digi bom bom bom bom” doesn’t stay in your head for hours after this, you are lucky.

6 – DLC
With a lot of the songs on this album focusing on SKZ’s confidence and more bragging, this one is the first one to come around that’s more about persevering and pushing through when things get tough. It starts the emotional rollercoaster of the second half of the album. It’s a mood-boosting song, talking about dancing through the worries and concerns of life, about trying to find the joy in life. Which leads to…

Have you ever had one of those weeks where work has been kicking your butt, and you’ve been handling more responsibilities than usual, and you are just DONE? Where you want to just go out, or hang out with your friends and GO OFF? It may not even be a matter of getting intoxicated, you just want the release of being able to have fun and not concern yourself with responsibility for a little while? Yep, that’s what this is to me.

I’m dumbfounded, with nothing to do
Look at the wall like crazy and talk nonsense, oh, yeah, yeah
Giving me goosebumps
A mountain of jobs pile up again for me to do, oh, yeah
I don’t wanna do it, I don’t wanna do it
Just put it all down and party like crazy
We are the cool guys with our ties undone
Whether tomorrow comes or not, let’s all just

Get lit
Oh, yeah
We’re not gonna die young
Oh, yeah
Be extravagant, today, I’m so cocky
Today, we walk with our shoulders wide, we are bougie
Dancing in front of people with confidence
Let’s stomp our feet, look good, and die trying
The wind that blew last night made me wanna dance

8 – Collision
You’d think this would be a cute groove song by the initial sound. Nope. This song was written and composed by Han, and you can TELL when you look at the lyrics. Han has a tendency to drop songs that are absolutely heartbreaking. The song laments a relationship that not only fell apart, but was abruptly destroyed, comparing it to two plants colliding in the sky, leaving trails of debris in their wake. It’s rapidly become a fan favorite.

9 – FNF
When the unveil for this song dropped, the group announced over Twitter that this was written “For all nature and wildlife lost from the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires”. Bang Chan and Felix are originally from Australia, and that loss hit them particularly hard. FNF stands for “flora and fauna”, per the lyrics.

It’s even more heartbreaking of a song when you think about the timeframe. Bang Chan and Felix’s families are in Australia, and when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they were stuck in Korea until travel opened up much more extensively. The guys didn’t get back to Australia until 2022, and Chan spoke regularly and openly in lives and on Bubble about how he missed his family and Berry (his dog), and hadn’t seen them in years. I can imagine that seeing the news about their home country being razed by wildfires and being so far away hurt their hearts.

I run fearlessly, and I fear I might lose you, I shout, shout, shout
No matter how many times I call out, I shout out one more time
Even if I stick to you like your shadow, you are so far, far, far
I can’t stay like this forever

10 – Youtiful
Bang Chan said on Bubble (the group’s fan chat service) that this was written with STAY in mind, and you can absolutely tell with the lyrics. This is the second English song on the album, and…it’s definitely in the same line as #loveSTAY from SKZ-Player, or You Can STAY from Levanter. It’s Stray Kids’ gift to their fans, and a reminder that they know the struggles that a lot of us go through and how much the fans mean to them, even on an individual level.

Another day ahead, don’t wanna leave the bed
You’re looking at the mirror, see the tears covered in red
I know that you’ve been cold this whole time
But now I’m here to make it end

You know whenever there’s a chance
I’ll tell you that you’re amazing as you are (Amazing as you are)
‘Cause when you give me a glance
I’m sure that I see the universe in your eyes (Universe in your eyes)
Don’t you ever tell yourself that you’re not enough
I am certain that you’re truly fine (Certain that you’re truly fine)
You are a miracle, miracle
You are youtiful


11 – THE SOUND (Korean Ver.)
THE SOUND is the title track of Stray Kids’ latest Japanese release, and they put the Korean version on this album. The Korean translation of the lyrics haven’t come out yet, but you can find the Japanese translation online. It’s a really wonderful song, with some great breakdowns. Seungmin and I.N’s voices come ALIVE on this track for me, they stand out wonderfully.
(In all honesty, the entire album of THE SOUND is excellent, I will have to give it a review one of these days. Trust me, go give it a listen.)

12 – Mixtape: Time Out
What can I say about Time Out that hasn’t already been said? This song was originally released on July 31, 2022, as a gift/celebration for STAY’s anniversary date. It’s fun, it’s poppy and lighthearted, a reminder to put your hands up and just let go of stress sometimes and enjoy the life we have right now. It’s a popular comfort song for a lot of the fans, myself included. The MV is absolutely adorable, filmed on the beach, and you can see the happiness shining on their faces (especially Bang Chan and Felix, both Australian and definite seaside lovers).

Fun little fact: in the last multi-stan Discord server I was in, we actually had a little fic-writing challenge a few weeks before this came out, and the theme of the challenge was “Rockstar Bang Chan”. When I tell you that we all LOST OUR DAMNED MINDS when this MV came out! I swear to this day that our little group manifested Rockstar Channie.

I’ve been listening to this album frequently since it came out just over a week ago, and I’ll be honest – it’s hard to figure out what songs are my faves. So far, I think Hall of Fame and Super Bowl are up there, but Youtiful is rapidly ascending in the “songs on repeat” line.

What are your thoughts on 5-STAR? Drop me a line in the comments, or over on Twitter!