By Han Sun Hyung

When discussing music, the phrase “pop-esque” is usually considered a compliment. The “poppiness” of K-pop and the maximalist elements of idol music are looked down upon, and the “cleanliness” of Anglo-American music is seen as something to be admired. Jungkook’s ‘Golden’ shatters these prejudices and creates a new wave of discourse. It’s a reminder of how “pop star” is an empty title in today’s borderless, genre-bending K-pop market.

In a myopic assessment of singles, the lack of individuality could be interpreted as a positive. It’s a different story when it comes to albums. He becomes Justin Timberlake in “3D,” The Weeknd resembles Michael Jackson in the title track “Standing Next To You,” and dons the mask of Justin Bieber in “Closer To You”. That doesn’t mean that Jungkook is their intersection. Compositions that are busy racing to the top of the US radio charts erase the subject and leave it blank. It feels like listening to an algorithmically generated playlist.

‘Golden’ is a stark reminder of HYBE Entertainment’s desire to take the “K” out of K-pop. Just like how Le Sserafim has a touch of Rosalia and NewJeans has a touch of PinkPantheress. The only clue to the singer’s presence in a parade of tracks that are overwhelmingly marked by traces of the composer’s style or references is his unobtrusive command of English lyrics. Perhaps his competition isn’t fellow musicians, but rather the latest trend in AI voice programs.

It’s a good thing he doesn’t try to make a personal statement or preach a philosophy. ‘Golden’ is a spokesperson for the ultra-luxury A&R system that pays huge amounts of money for songs in a thoroughly organized and industrialized process. The album’s collection of “easy-listening,” “trendy,” and “short” songs, sourced from famous songwriters such as Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes, and DJ Snake, vividly displays the global public’s view of current K-pop music. If you need an example of stateless music that has everything ranging from popular genre, short form and top key words, look no further.

Silence, not roar, is the only place where there is a conflict between the benefits of K-pop and the desire to rise as a Western pop star. As usual, there is a quota to be met, and all the remixes and half-price discounts that come with launch events make a solo career, which could have been a time of pathfinding, seem like bait to get to the top of the charts. It’s degrading to use music as a means and not as an end. Maybe it’s just a cool recognition, like Chairman Bang Si-hyuk’s recent comment that BTS has adopted a “famous for being famous” strategy. The album symbolizes the golden age of the 2020s, where selling a lot is good enough.

-Side Tracks-

1. 3D (Feat. Jack Harlow)

2. Closer to you (Feat. Major Lazor)

3. Seven (Feat. Latto) (Explicit ver.) ✅

4. Standing next to you

5. Yes or no ✅

6. Please don’t change (Feat. DJ Snake)

7. Hate you

8. Somebody

9. Too sad to dance

10. Shot glass of tears

11. Seven (Feat. Latto) (Clean ver.)

1. So I guess the album wasn’t good

2. I had the same thoughts. It was rated low overseas too

3. I’m enjoying the songs but I also agree with the review

4. Compared to this, The Guardian gave the album a bad review 

5. Honestly, I kinda agree

6. Personally, I agree a lot. This review really captures the bittersweet feelings I have for this album. The 3rd paragraph just hits the nail

7. Wow this is a terrible review;;

8. IZM never reviews the music but everything that’s on the exterior

9. I like all the songs but I also feel like I’ve heard all the songs somewhere else before

10. He’s just trying to hate on HYBE at this point

11. I don’t think it has to do with Jungkook. All of HYBE’s recent releases have gotten bad reviews

12. This review was better written than I expected

13. But I do think that what he said was true

14. It’s true. This album was to make him into a “pop star” after all 

15. To be honest, I did think about the other artists that he mentioned in the review