While I don’t usually listen to K-pop, SKZ-REPLAY proved that I should

The cover art for Stray Kids most recent album, SKZ-REPLAY


The cover art for Stray Kids’ most recent album, SKZ-REPLAY

Since I don’t yet have a driver’s license, my ears are subject to the music of the friends who give me rides. For two of my chauffeurs, that music is K-pop. To my surprise, one of the songs they played was not only good, it was actually catchy and memorable and is still stuck in my head. “Case 143” by Stray Kids showed me the wonders of the K-pop genre.

Thus, I decided to give their newest album, SKZ-REPLAY, a listen.

Most of the songs on this album were each sung by a different one of the band members, allowing each one a bit of spotlight and a chance to showcase his own style. It’s a collection of their unreleased songs from throughout the year, an end-of-the-year gift to fans. While most of the songs remained uninteresting to me, some of them stood out as clear gems.

The first was Changbin’s “DOODLE.” To say the least, this song is weird. But, it’s an absolute bop. It begins with a horror-movie-type sound setting the dark, intense mood seamlessly. Then, the chorus comes in with the silliest lyrics: “my life’s like a doodle.” Similar lines repeat throughout, creating an odd, yet head-bopping, melody that makes you want to “move like a doodle.”

If you like this song, you’ll also like “ZONE,” which also has a dark tone mixed into the fast-paced music. It’s sung by Changbin, Han, and Bang Chan, each of them offering different vocal styles from quick rap to melodic singing.

Hyunjin’s “Love Untold” provides a completely different mood, one much softer and sweeter. There’s a repeated guitar melody that makes the song memorable, and the chorus is uplifting with a generally calm mood.

Similarly, “Close” is peppered with background guitar licks throughout—same for “RUN,” with its marimba-sounding synths. These riffs keep the music consistently interesting and catchy with the same short melody carrying the beat.

Felix’s “Deep End,” is absolutely stunning. It is a glowing scarlet floor-length gown with deep, dark velvet folds. Simply, beyond beautiful.

Another song with stellar production is “Stars and Raindrops,” sung by Seungmin. It is a masterpiece; there’s an even amount of variety in tones throughout the song, with seamless transitions. The verse’s simple bassline keeps a usually “mid” part of the song entertaining. But, nothing compares to the chorus. It sounds out of this world. The layered vocals and guitar seem to float on air.

I.N.’s “Hug me” is a fun, happy-go-lucky song with a really catchy bass part. The verse is the best part of the song, surprisingly, with the upbeat backing music it offers, but unfortunately, this doesn’t stay through to the chorus.

On the other hand, my favorite song on the album, Felix’s “Deep End,” is absolutely stunning. It is a glowing scarlet floor-length gown with deep, dark velvet folds. Simply, beyond beautiful.

The song’s verse is sung in a cool, deep voice that’s soothing and quiet, with slow, drawn-out words. And then, they gently rise to the willowy high notes in the chorus. Suddenly, just after the bridge, his voice drops down to the lower octave again. I was shocked by Felix’s vocal range; he sounds like an entirely different person with each octave jump.

Overall, “Deep End” gives the same soulful feeling as Joji’s “Glimpse of Us.” All the while, the minimalist piano accompaniment offers a perfect melodic addition, leaving plenty of well-deserved spotlight for the vocals.

On the whole, the production of this album is on point with well-developed, repeated hooks and the slower songs have incredibly pretty vocals.

While not every song on this album is memorable, a few have absolutely wowed me. If you don’t already listen to Stray Kids, now is the time to start.