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Champaign Central Chronicle

‘All that Glitters isn’t Golden’: A Review of BTS’ Jung Kook’s Solo Debut Album

‘All that Glitters isn’t Golden’: A Review of BTS’ Jung Kook’s Solo Debut Album
second set of concept photos for GOLDEN. (c. BigHit Music/Weverse)

On November 3, 2023, the long-awaited solo debut album from Jung Kook of BTS, Golden was released. Preceded by two singles with features from American rappers Latto and Jack Harlow, Seven and 3D, the mood was set for the upcoming album to be filled with fun pop tracks, slick rap. On top of that, the entire album is written in English, another first for Jung Kook. Since the members of BTS collectively decided to go on a hiatus of group activities to prepare for military enlistment, solo projects from the members have been coming back to back.

  The album starts with funky pop rap, and later sleekly transitions to Daft Punk-esque electric pop elements, and a couple tracks that get you in your feels, like ‘Hate You’ and ‘Shot Glass of Tears.’ Golden made history on the Hanteo charts, selling 2,147,389 physical copies in the first 24 hours of its release; this  is also the first time a solo artist has achieved this. He is also the only Korean soloist to win at the MTV VMAs, and to win in a main category.  On top of this, Golden has hit the #1 spot on iTunes charts in over 60 countries.

  The first installment of the album was the single ‘Seven’ featuring Latto. Seven just broke the record for the fastest song to hit 1 billion streams on Spotify, made in 108 days. About a month and a half after Seven’s release, ‘3D’ featuring Jack Harlow was dropped, and the internet responded quite well to it for the most part, although there were a lot of opinions on Jack’s verses. More promotion projects were done, and on the first Friday of November, we got all 11 tracks along with the physical album book for Golden.

   As usual, ARMY (BTS’s fandom name) had a lot to say, and there were a lot of mixed opinions. Fans on all social media platforms were expressing their excitement on this release, and as usual, Jung Kook was trending on X (formerly Twitter) with tags like #GoldenOutNow and JUNGKOOK ATE were spread over the globe, peaking at #2 in the United States. Fans were impressed mostly with his versatility, diversity, and expression of talent, and this album was a beautiful showcase of said talent.

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   But for others, this wasn’t the case. Of course, it was a collective opinion that his vocal talent was done justice on every single track, but the style of music he was going for wasn’t really impressive. Many fans were disappointed as far as the genre and lyrics were concerned, expressing points that the whole album was giving manufactured Western pop. “Right now, I don’t see the pop scene doing Jung Kook justice. The album overall was just really basic, and the only thing keeping me listening was the fact that his voice sounded amazing on each track.” Nevaeh Bickerstaff, a junior at Central and casual BTS listener, said. “I really hope in the future, he touches more into R&B styles, I see a lot of potential there.”

  Considering the album is an entirely English project, Jung Kook wasn’t able to participate wholly in the writing; he actually has 0 writing or production credits to his name in the entire album. According to the Harvard Crimson, “A whopping nine songwriters are credited on Closer To You.” But, the 26-year-old singer did say the songs on the album were designed to “reflect his artistry”, hence the diversion into elements of music he is new to.

 “I was thinking to myself, ‘how is this the same guy that made Still With You?’” Fatima Toribio-Santamaria, a senior at Central High School, said. “I love how each track was something different than the last, but it wasn’t giving what needed to be [given] in terms of genre. I expected some sort of R&B elements, and the recycled pop kind of threw me for a second.”

According to the Times of India, Jung Kook addressed the album’s English entirety in a recent PICKCON interview, and he explains that “GOLDEN was mainly made for the international market, which is why all the songs are in English. Jungkook said that he wanted to challenge himself musically, and he assured fans more Korean songs are coming soon.” For him, making an entire album in English was one way to do so.

third set of concept photos for GOLDEN. (c. BigHit Music/Weverse)


The South Korean singer is paving his way in the industry, and setting himself into two personas – Golden Maknae (or youngest in Korean) and pop trailblazer. (c. BigHit Music)

    No matter who had their feelings about the album, it’s undeniable that Jung Kook has been absolutely obliterating the music industry. Whether it be singlehandedly breaking records or falling asleep on Weverse live, his impact on the music industry and his fans on a global scale has reached unprecedented heights. He’s not called the Golden Maknae for nothing.

Jung Kook on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. 7 November 2023.

  “I wanted to have this universal emotion – love. I wanted to show the change of emotion; and also in terms of versatility, I wanted to become a solo artist that could pull off many genres, and that’s what I try to do,” Jung Kook told Jimmy Fallon during his Tonight Show interview.

“I think you did it, I really do,” Jimmy replied.

Jung Kook on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. 7 November 2023.


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