I'm more obsessed than ever with them now as all-round brilliant performers and producers. Mind-blowingly talented group of young men. As a writer I've learned that producing quality content and persistence in doing that is the path to success. But it's hard. Balancing quality with speed of production. I feel I'm improving in both areas, but then I look at the enormous content the Stray Kids (SKZ) produce and it's mind-boggling. (Even though many of their songs admonish not to compare yourself with others, it's almost impossible not to be in awe of the quality and quantity of their content). True, they have an entertainment company backing them, for better or worse (more on this in a moment), but still. I haven't even begun to appreciate all their work because I was too busy enjoying their more recent big hits that attracted me to them in 2020 when I first heard of them. The wealth of content online of not only their music videos, but their practice videos, their fan cam videos, their live performance videos, and all their other gigs and then there's their VLives, zones, bubbles, and zoo where you see their playful personalities and humor. I've always been partial to adolescent boy humor, one of the reasons my husband and I hit it off when we first met, so the SKZ good-natured teasing of one another and their repartee is endearing.
From a marketing standpoint, getting to know them more as people and finding out how tight they are as a group, is so powerful. Their loyalty to one another and the fact that none of them are selfish or narcissistic is refreshing. They all seem in awe of each other's talents and the producers, 3Racha consisting of Bangchan, Han, and Changbin, are truly brilliant in the way they showcase each member's strengths and blend them all together to produce perfection. That's why I love God's Menu so much because it represents their group so well in concept and practice.
Two more points for today. I love their lyrics. First of all, I love all the songs where they blend Korean with English lyrics. Absolutely love. But the meanings and themes are classic and very positive in general (more on this in a minute). My current inspiration is My Pace, a song they released a while back, but it speaks to me as a writer and all the advice I've read to writers: don't compare yourself to others, keep looking forward, don't worry about being slower than someone else, keep on keepin' on, pretty much. Also, since I'm also on a newly rigorous exercise regimen to rid myself of the stress-induced extra pandemic pounds I gained, I'm listening to SKZ with ear buds and, wow, really appreciating all the details and voices so much more. New appreciation for Changbin's rapping and gruff voice juxtaposed with the honey-voiced Seungmin and melodic Chan, the strong voices of Felix (his deep voice is amazing--and incongruous given his angelic looks), Han, and Hyunjin, and the sweetness of IN and Minho. Especially in My Pace, for instance.
Secondly, I'll address the two parenthetical asides I mentioned above: their entertainment company, JYPE, and their departure from positive themes. They are interrelated and both tied to the main reason why I haven't blogged since January: Hwang Hyunjin, my ultimate bias in kpop terminology. He was suspended by JYPE from all activity in late February due to alleged bullying...in middle school...by someone who claimed he hurt their feelings back then by his gruff attitude. After an investigation by JYPE, the bullying claims were dismissed, Hyunjin apologized for any hurt he had ever caused and, you'd think, that would be that. But no. JYPE decided to put him on hiatus, seemingly their call, not his. (I'm gleaning all this from online buzz since JYPE has not posted any updates since their initial couple of announcements which were vague). JYPE never said for how long the hiatus would be. Apparently, typical hiatus in the kpop industry is two to three months, and it's already been more than seventy days. I know with all the horrible problems in the world this seems like no big deal, but that's exactly the point. SKZ and their positive attitude has been a lifeline to joy in the past dark year to so many young people (and older, ahem). Other than Schitt's Creek, I can't think of another entertainment source that represents so much positivity through their uplifting messages about self-love, self-acceptance, and self-care, acceptance of all, gender neutrality, and love for all. And Hyunjin and the other seven SKZ members embody that positivity. So when the original true eight OT8 are broken up, we all hurt. The camaraderie of the fandom has helped all of the Stays endure his absence, but I am amazed at how much it's affected me.
Which brings me to their last Kingdom performance where they did a cover of BTOB I'll Be Your Man, but changed the narrative by having the song about a young innocent child who died and how the SKZ made a deal with the devil to trade their lives and die so he could be brought back to life. From what I've read, the best analysis of their performance is the young boy represents Hyunjin and that they are going through hell until he returns. Very powerful performance you can view above. Unless he has requested such a long hiatus himself, which we doubt but who knows since JYPE has been quiet, the length of his hiatus or punishment seems out of whack with his purported offense, especially because he apologized profusely. Anyway, we all hope he'll be back soon and we wish him and the other members continuing success and happiness.