The Golden Maknae has released his debut solo album. With an all English tracklist, and plenty of features, I was curious how GOLDEN would display who BTS fans already know to be an unstoppable force. Jung Kook is a treasure, but I was disappointed with how some of this album played out.
3D (feat. Jack Harlow): 1/10
This track might feel a bit jarring to BTS audiences that are used to only the slightest hint of suggestive lyrics. “3D” is filled with sexual references and carries an explicit warning. Jung Kook has fully broken the “wholesome” mold and sets the tone of the album with this first track. The beat is laid-back and catchy, however, I personally did not enjoy the lyrics at all.
I had one girl, too boring
Two girls, that was cool for me
Three girls, damn, dude’s horny
Four girls, okay now you whorin’
There are plenty of other lines that make this song overly sexual. Sadly, “3D” fits in with plenty of other pop songs and doesn’t stick out with its melody or lyrics. I was hoping more for Jung Kook. If I didn’t already respect his artistry from BTS, I personally would have stopped listening to the album here.
Closer to You (feat. Major Lazer): 3/10
JK enters this track with breathy vocals. The lyrics are better compared to “3D”, but again, I’m disappointed by the melody. It’s an easy track to forget and zone out to.
Seven (feat. Latto): 5/10
This track is catchy and fits more into the melodic expectations I had for JK’s solo music. It has a great flow and rhythm, as well as a memorable chorus melody. In “Seven”, Jung Kook returns with sexually explicit lyrics. That, however, hasn’t stopped the song from reaching over a billion listens on Spotify. This track was his first single from the album and no doubt piqued fans interest for what GOLDEN would be like.
Standing Next to You: 10/10
With a big drum opening and a groovy tune, “Standing Next to You” is the first song on the album I could see myself wanting to listen to again. This track truly showcases the best of Jung Kook. That funky bass line pairs so well with JK’s effortless vocals. The song is fun, retro, and has an amazing instrumental break at the end. I wish more of the album reflected “Standing Next to You” as it’s a breath of fresh air compared to earlier tracks.
Yes or No: 7/10
“Yes or No” has a similar feel to early 2000s artists, like Jesse McCartney. The lyrics are relatable–“Are we falling in love? Say yes or no.” This track is laid back, but has a sincerity to it that was lacking from other tracks on GOLDEN.
Please Don’t Change (feat. DJ Snake): 6/10
This song is a good follow up to “Yes or No” as it continues to dive deep into Jung Kook’s feelings. The simplistic chorus is a tad disappointing, but I still like the overall vibe of this track. The EDM sound scape fits JK’s vocals well and is a nice contribution to the album, but it’s not a standout song.
Hate You: 8/10
Finally a ballad! I was so hoping Jung Kook would have a song like this on the album because he is such a powerful, emotive vocalist. The stripped back piano is perfect to highlight this side of JK. The song talks about the need to hate someone in order to let go– “Maybe hating you is the only way it doesn’t hurt.”
Almost like a continuation of “Hate You”, Jung Kook sings about his ex, hoping they don’t come back to him. The track has a great bass line, and continues the retro vibes of the album. Jung Kook’s vocals are front and center and although the melody is basic, it’s still a decent song.
Too Sad to Dance: 7/10
With a guitar entrance, the feel of this track is so different from those on the album. It feels refreshing after all the electronic, groovy, and EDM sounding songs. “Too Sad to Dance” is chipper whilst having sad lyrics, and has an authentic feel. It’s a nice place to land in GOLDEN.
Shot Glass of Tears: 9/10
“Shot Glass of Tears” opens strong with these lyrics:
Tell me, am I ever gonna feel again? Tell me, am I ever gonna heal again? Got a shot glass full of tears. Drink, drink, drink, say cheers.
This ballad is full of feeling and honesty. It truly stands out on the album to me as one of the strongest lyrically and memorable melodically.
Seven (feat. Latto) (Clean Version): 6/10
My review of the clean version is more or less the same as the explicit version, just slightly better because it makes the song more accessible to listeners of all kinds.
In my opinion, this album could have been stronger if it cut off the first three tracks. Jung Kook’s strength and ability as an artist are better displayed in songs like “Standing Next to You” and “Shot Glass of Tears.” Though I’m glad to see JK’s solo abilities, I think he could better use his talents in more meaningful tracks rather than the typical mainstream pop songs about sex.
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