Some ARMYs agreed, while others got heated.
Following BTS Jungkook‘s successful release of his solo album, “GOLDEN,” the popular South Korean music critic site IZM shared a review that has since sparked an intense online discussion.
Rated at two out of five stars, “GOLDEN” was most heavily criticized for being “too pop for K-Pop.”
When talking about any K-Pop track, the comment, ‘It sounds pop-ish,’ has long been received as a praise. It gave insight to how the public has long considered the typical beats and maximalist structure of K-Pop to be of less ‘class,’ while idolizing the clean-cut Western pop sound. Jungkook’s album, GOLDEN, breaks that norm and brings a new perspective to the age-old interpretation. It’s an album that represents how void the title ‘pop star’ can be, in an era of K-Pop that has pushed through borders and throned itself as a whole genre.
In a simplistic, short-sighted manner, the lack of character from the individual tracks could be seen as a positive aspect. But looking at the whole album, that is no longer the case. For ‘3D,’ Jungkook was Justin Timberlake-esque, while for ‘Standing Next To You,’ he was The Weeknd Meet Michael Jackson. For ‘Closer To You,’ he came close to Justin Bieber-ing. In the end, though, Jungkook is not the combination of all those pop stars. The album, and how it’s structured, has erased Jungkook’s identity, in an attempt to top the American charts. And for this reason, the play-through of GOLDEN sounds no short of some automated playlist, thrown together by an algorithm.
— Han Sung Hyun
While Jungkook himself explained the choices he made for the album, critic Han Sung Hyun had much to comment about the significance of the non-Korean content.
BTS’s Jungkook Seems To Address Criticism Over His Songs Being In English
Han called “GOLDEN” the epitome of HYBE removing “K” from K-Pop, and being “too trend-chasing” for his preference.
GOLDEN is the epitome of HYBE Entertainment’s ultimate goal, of removing the ‘K’ from K-Pop. Like LE SSERAFIM’s albums all stained by Rosalia, and those of NewJeans mimicking the details of PinkPantheress’s works, down to the smallest personal preferences, GOLDEN is more like a direct import of some pop album. Amid the lineup of tracks that ooze with the composers’ choices and references, perhaps the sole sign of the vocalist’s presence is from the flawless pronunciation of the English words. And it brings up the question: Who is he competing against, his fellow artists or the latest AI vocal program?
The one upside to the album is that it’s not smothered in message of identity-finding or philosophy-spreading. GOLDEN is the work of a completely methodical and commercialized production, backed by a tremendous amount of financial abundance funding the extravagant A&R system—to supply ‘easy-listening’ and ‘trendy,’ ‘short’ songs from songwriters like Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes, DJ Snake, and more. And it’s a representation of where K-Pop music stands, to the audience worldwide. To those in search of a root-less music chasing the latest rising genres, taking on the popular short-form content, and selling the trendiest keywords, GOLDEN is perfect.
— Han Sung Hyun
The overall negative review has, inevitably, started a lot of discussion online. Thousands of comments across online communities debated the review, as well as the album. Some ARMYs respected the critic’s opinions, as reviews are personal; Others disregarded the review for being hateful for no reason.
- “The artist himself chose the path he took. It’s what he aspires, and so it was a bit disappointing to me.”
- “EXACTLY WHY this turned out to be the best album for me, haha. Jungkook pushed himself over his limits and tried all the different vocal skills that he didn’t get to show off before. The album offered so much, so I was satisfied.”
- “The tracks are fine, but I do understand what the critic is talking about. It did feel like it was focusing on the rankings and commercial achievements. It would’ve been even better if it showed some artistic color. Like, Jungkook is such a talented person, so I guess I expected something more original to him.”
- “It’s izm we’re talking about… Their critiques are often all over the place.”
- “I’ve been listening to the album quite a lot, but that being said… I do agree with what’s being said.”
- “Wait, what?! TWO STARS? I don’t get it… I’ve been listening to it, feeling more astonished each time.”
- “This review reads like a malicious comment under some online forum post.”
- “I think it puts into words how I felt after listening through the whole album. Sounds great and all. His singing is immaculate and his performances are even better. But there isn’t something to tie it all down together. The part about it sounding like an AI-generated playlist, I really get. I think it’s because usually first solo albums are a bit more personalized. But it ended up being a satisfactory album to me, so I’m looking forward to his future works.”
- “I agree. I hope his next album is a bit different.”
- “Listen, his fans loved it. He’s doing great things out there right now. That’s all that matters.”
- “You know, reading the whole thing again, I realized that it talks about LE SSERAFIM and NewJeans in a Jungkook album review. The critic is biased against HYBE.”
- “The album did remind me of NSYNC-era Justin Timberlake. So… Yes, it did feel like a patchwork of this and that pop trends. Haha. But that’s what made it so easy to listen to. I don’t think these reviews matter, as long as the album isn’t being produced by Jungkook himself. The album was a hit, end of story.”
- “I have to agree with what’s being said here. I would’ve understood if it was a couple of songs. But the whole album to be so… pop is, in my opinion, not exactly in Jungkook’s favor. I think it should’ve shown more of Jungkook’s personal colors as an artist.”
- “Our golden maknae Jungkook apologized for having the album come so late. And he made some great songs. These help ARMYs wait for OT7. So stop hating. A vocalist’s job is to sing well and dance well, which he’s doing. What’s wrong with being like a pop star? Also… Watch his performances. I don’t think there’s ANY lack of character.”
- “Damn, this says a lot. But I think it’s fair for a music critic to critique an album like so. I get the points being made.”
Meanwhile, there is no doubt that Jungkook’s latest record-breaking album is becoming the foundation for even more success for the (K)-Pop star. Receiving a tremendous amount of love from fans and media all over the world, “GOLDEN” and Jungkook both remain unbothered.
— chart data (@chartdata) November 10, 2023
Read more about Jungkook’s latest performance at Times Squre.
ARMYs Are “Worried” After BTS Jungkook’s Legendary Performance At Times Square