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BTS’ Jungkook releases ‘GOLDEN’ debut solo LP

KOREA Dispatch | Wikimedia Commons

Jeon JungKook, the youngest member of K-pop group BTS, finally released his long-awaited solo debut album “GOLDEN” on Nov 3. The album’s title is a reference to his nickname of the “golden maknae” or “golden youngest” in Korean. 

The new record follows a pair of Billboard Hot 100 top 5 hits. “GOLDEN” is the latest in a string of solo projects from BTS members who have been attending their mandatory military service. 

JungKook has written and produced songs for BTS, including ballads such as “Your Eyes Tell” and the electro-pop anthem “Stay.” These compositions were initially meant for the solo album, but he decided to record them with the group instead. For this album, he was focused on experimenting with new vocal techniques and honing his live performance skills. 

The album is all in English and consists of 11 songs.

There are two narratives told throughout the album. One shows the stages of falling in love when one feels euphoric, personal endangerment and eventual exhaustion. The latter illustrates the stages of a breakup: denial, bargaining, isolation and grief. 

“GOLDEN” showcases JungKook’s versatility, with genres ranging from trendy retro pop, R&B, synthpop and more. The album was preceded by two singles, the U.K. garage track “Seven (feat. Latto),” and the 2000s-resonate-inspired track “3D (feat. Jack Harlow).” 

Opening with “3D,” the track depicts a strong beginning in a relationship followed by “Seven .” The listener can choose to set the album in a romantic direction by choosing the clean version or towards a lust-filled sentiment with the explicit version.

“Closer to You (feat. Major Lazer)” expresses a longing to be proximal to someone special. It catches the listener off guard with its reggaeton beat in the first verse, JungKook’s voice whispering an invitation. Soon, the song slips into an R&B rhythm as he brings listeners “closer.”

Standing Next to You” is the album’s lead single and channels Michael Jackson’s pop sentiments with a modern interpretation of disco and funk and JungKook’s groovy vocals. The song highlights intensity with its energetic rhythm, depicting the simple joy of “Standing next to you.”

“Yes or No (feat. Ed Sheeran)” explores the uncertainty and vulnerability of falling in love. Jungkook looks to his lover for clarity and asks if they are “feeling the rush,” The track highlights the simplicity of the question and the complexity of the emotions.

“Please Don’t Change” commands the dance floor with Afropop beats and DJ Snake’s electronic style while highlighting the importance of consistency and authenticity in a relationship. The refrain “Please, please don’t change” emphasizes the desire for the person to stay as they are, fearing the loss of a genuine connection.

“Hate You (feat. Shawn Mendes)” is a piano ballad that captures heartbreak and betrayal, projecting the image of the other party as “the villain that you never were” because “hating you’s the only way it doesn’t hurt.”

“Somebody (feat. Jon Bellion)” is an R&B-influenced track reflecting an internal turmoil. The lyric “I hope you know that somebody ain’t me” conveys a longing and desire to connect with another person while being self-aware that he might not be the right fit.

“Too Sad to Dance (feat. David Stewart)” combines bass with a mournful melody as the pain of lost love takes away the simple ability to enjoy dancing. “Way too sad to dance,” Jungkook mopes.

“GOLDEN” ends with “Shot Glass of Tears (feat. David Stewart),” a depressing slow ballad that narrates the protagonist’s overwhelming misery. He “Drink, drink, drink[s]” and says “cheers” after, momentarily escaping and seeking solace through alcohol.

JungKook’s musical abilities shine throughout “GOLDEN.”

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