South Korean boy group Bangtan Sonyeodan (BTS)’s “golden maknae” Jungkook dropped his monumental debut solo album titled Golden as the nickname takes on a whole new meaning for the star. Released on Nov. 3 under HYBE, the 11-track long play (LP) included two of his previously-released hits, “Seven (feat. Latto)” and “3D (feat. Jack Harlow).”
Being the last solo debut of the seven BTS members, Jungkook's long-anticipated solo album is the final string of solo projects from the group before their mandatory military enlistment, marking this release as symbolic and nostalgic for many fans of the group.
Road to Golden
Being a story of two halves, Golden takes listeners through the different stages of love as Jungkook presents both upbeat, optimistic feelings and heavier, melancholic sentiments on the emotion.
The album opens with the familiar tune of his second single “3D,” a Jack Harlow collaboration, which debuted and peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The R&B track was a resurgence of the 90’s boybands’ smooth numbers that were beloved by many. Its light echoes and sensual lyrics establish a seductive mood, emphasizing the infatuation and desperation of being in love.
Picking up from the sensuality of the previous track, “Seven,” featuring Grammy-nominated American rapper Latto, comes in two versions: explicit and clean. The track is an acoustic guitar and UK-garage-inflected ode to never-ending love seven days a week, “I’ll be lovin’ you right, seven days a week,” he sings.
The debut single topped the Billboard Hot 100 and became the fastest song in history to accumulate over one billion streams on Spotify. The mega-hit track has since gone on to break multiple records and barriers in the globalization of K-pop.
With the release of the next track, “Standing Next to You,” Jungkook cemented his status as a superstar of the 2020s. Recreating the brilliance of the millennial eras—which resembled the works of pop kings Craig David, Justin Timberlake, and Michael Jackson—the track immediately releases an explosive energy of bass and drum while developing a dramatic and sensual storyline revolving around chasing after a mysterious femme fatale.
Another classic pop anthem, “Yes or No,” written by and featuring English songwriter Ed Sheeran, begins to take a different approach from the intimate standpoint of the album so far as it taps into the uncertainties and butterfly feelings of having a crush. “Are you feeling the rush?” the singer asks earnestly in the bright, simple chorus. “If so, then I think I know what’s going on / Are we falling in love? / Say yes or no, yes or no, yes or no.”
Dimming the light
Next is a collaboration with French producer DJ Snake, “Please Don’t Change,” which marks the turning point of the album as the verses shift from confident pursuance to desperate pleas. “Even if the stars collide and you’re light years away, I’ll be the same,” Jungkook echoes as he asks a lover to never change. “Tell me if my stars collide and I’m light years away, will you do the same?”
Charting heavy feelings after heartbreak, timeless highlights come in the form of “Hate You,” a piano ballad co-written by Shawn Mendes, followed by “Too Sad to Dance,” a clean melody portraying the hopelessness after a breakup.
Concluding the lineup, the heart-wrenching “Shot Glass of Tears” drips in sorrow and sadness as he sings, “Tell me, am I ever gonna feel again? Tell me, am I ever gonna heal again?” The soft track joined by soulful vocals heightens the energy making for a grand finale to close the album.
From the mega-hit “Seven” to more melancholic tracks like “Hate You,” Golden captures Jungkook’s multifaceted artistry, charismatic vocals, and irresistible pop appeal—beyond his image in BTS.
Adding his own twist to old-school and retro rhythms, Jungkook explained in a video introducing his new album, “Some people love old pop songs while others prefer tunes with trendy beats.” He continued, “I wanted to cater to all of their tastes. I still feel a bit pressured to be called a global pop star, but I hope I can live up to this nickname [referring to the nickname, ‘golden maknae’].”
Jungkook has already demonstrated himself as an unparalleled solo artist, thanks to the stellar success of his pre-released singles, but his debut solo holds a deeper meaning. “Whenever I performed on stage in front of my fans, that marked the golden moments in my life,” he shared.
“Like many other singers, releasing albums and giving performances are the biggest driving forces for me, so I would like to continue creating these moments with BTS. Our golden moments are not over.”