According to The Rolling Stones, Stray Kids still achieved good results after each comeback despite consecutive scandals.
Coming from one of the leading entertainment companies in Korea and also the company of famous names such as GOD, 2PM or GOT7, Stray Kids since its debut has attracted the attention and expectations of the public.
Through the reality show of the same name, the 9-member boy group debuted in 2017. According to OSEN, the first album marking the birth of the group – Mixtape, was released in 2018.
Having been active for a short time, Stray Kids has stirred up public opinion because of a series of scandals related to private life. However, after a series of scandals that seemed to put an end to the group’s future, Stray Kids still rose strongly, becoming the leading name of the 4th generation.
A talented, unique group
Unlike previous JYP groups, Stray Kids is known for their ability to produce and choreograph themselves. The members themselves directly participated in composing, writing lyrics and choreographing for songs like Hellevator, District 9, My Pace, Miroh… Experts also rate Stray Kids as one of the few new-generation groups that can take on all stages from production to staging.
The president of JYP commented, “Stray Kids are not only talented trainees in art or good looks, but they are also promising seeds in the field of music production.” Each Stray Kids product represents the group’s distinctive colors and imprints through each stage of development.
The song that started their artistic journey – Hellevator conveys the meaning that the group will reach for success with unremitting efforts. The next product “I Am Not” is an affirmation of the boys’ position, and at the same time inspires the young generation to pursue their passion.
I Am Who expresses the youthful enthusiasm of Gen Z, and I Am You again marks the maturity of the group’s musical thinking. At the time Woo Jin left the group, “Levanter” is a song that sends the group’s message to fans about letting go of things that are not worth it at the right time and moving towards something new and better that awaits ahead.
The Korea Times said that the JYP boy group knows how to impress the audience by creating something new, from music to visuals, especially eye-catching performances. That is also the reason why the group convincingly won first place in the show Kingdom 2021.
JYP’s wise strategy
JYP‘s smart strategy is one of the factors that help Stray Kids maintain their widespread influence despite the members constantly being entangled in controversy over their personal lives.
Well aware of each member’s unique style and charm compared to the male idol market, JYP continuously organized tours promoting their images and music around the world. Right from the first release, Stray Kids managed to show their appeal in the international market when Hellevator ranked 2nd on Billboard’s Worldwide Album chart.
Before targeting foreign markets, JYP also built a reputation as well as a fan base for the group in their home country through well-invested promotions as well as a tour around Korea.
JYP‘s wisdom is also shown in crisis handling. Typically, the scandal of Woo Jin. After Woo Jin’s misdeeds were brought to light, fans believed that JYP did the right thing as they were willing to let go of talented but problematic idols.
Before that, Woo Jin was Stray Kids’ main vocal. JYP‘s announcement that he left the group for personal reasons is considered one of the most mysterious departures in Kpop. At that time, Stray Kids were already gaining certain successes.
In light of public criticism, to avoid risks, JYP once again made the right decision to let Stray Kids have a debut in Japan – one of the most powerful music markets where many Big 3 idols are active.
By releasing Slump – the theme song for the anime Tower of God, Stray Kids reaped impressive achievements. The song topped the Oricon singles chart, making Stray Kids the 4th foreign male artist to rise to No.1 on this chart after Jang Keun Suk, EXO, and iKON.
When the group was gaining success in Japan was also when the controversy in their home country gradually subsided, Stray Kids then returned to Korea with their first studio album Go Live, and the title track God’s Menu. Go Live quickly climbed to the top of the weekly Gaon Album chart.
Besides, the album sold more than 250,000 copies and helped the group receive a platinum certification from the Korea Music Content Association (KMCA).
Starting to earn more domestic popularity, Stray Kids released their first repackaged album In Life with 16 songs. The album brought Stray Kids impressive achievements both in terms of sales and domestic and international awards. In particular, the single Back Door was recognized by TIME and included in the list of 10 best songs of 2020.
By the beginning of February 2021, Stray Kids once again made headlines over controversy when the most famous member of the group, Hyun Jin, got involved in school bullying allegations. At that time, plenty of Korean celebrities was accused of school violence by their former classmates. However, an idol from JYP, a company that is famous for prioritizing artists’ good personalities, being embroiled in such a scandal had the public shook and angry.
JYP had a smart way of handling Hyun Jin’s controversy as the company did not entirely deny the accusations. They said they would carefully verify the truth. Besides, JYP also confirmed to take appropriate legal actions.
Hyun Jin also personally met the victims to apologize and posted a handwritten letter on social media. Many of Hyun Jin‘s former classmates spoke up in defense of the male idol. Hyun Jin‘s middle school homeroom teacher even sent a message to the media outlet OSEN to defend him.
The teacher wrote, “Hyun Jin may have hurt someone with his immature words and actions at that time, but it would be unreasonable to say that Hyun Jin took the lead and used violence.”
JYP then temporarily ceased all activities of Hyun Jin so that he could self-reflect on his past mistakes.
During the time Hyun Jin was taking a break from activities due to his scandal, Stray Kids proved that the group did not have to rely on Hyun Jin to succeed as many people say. With only 7 members, Stray Kids excellently beat many strong competitors like iKON, BTOB… to be crowned the winner of Mnet’s Kingdom 2021.
Stray Kids’ next album NOEASY and the title track Thunderous marked the return of the 8-member lineup. After more than 24 hours of release, the song was #1 on iTunes album charts in more than 40 countries. After a month, NOEASY surpassed 1.1 million copies sold on Gaon Chart with 930,000 pre-orders. NOEASY officially became Stray Kids’ first album to sell more than a million copies.
Stray Kids’ latest EP ODDINARY recorded the group’s highest first-week album sales since their debut with 496,125 copies. This achievement is a worthy result of the unremitting efforts of all 8 members.