"특(S-Class)": Stray Kids' 5-STAR Comeback!

"특(S-Class)": Stray Kids' 5-STAR Comeback!

It’s been eight months, but Stray Kids are back with a new album! Here’s everything you need to know about 5-STAR and their title track “특 (S-Class).”

The Road to 5-STAR

Rumors about a new album swirled while Stray Kids were still promoting Maxident. After winning two awards at The Fact Music Awards in October 2022, Seungmin hinted at a 2023 album that would explore new genres which Stays (fans) hadn’t heard before.

Stray Kids at The Fact Music Awards 2023

Image Credits: Saerom Lee via The Fact

In their December 31 video “STEP OUT 2023," Stray Kids announced their goals for the year ahead. One of them was 2 Korean-language albums.

Various outlets reported that Stray Kids had finished filming their next title track’s music video at the beginning of March. JYP Entertainment later confirmed the rumors, while saying that the comeback schedule hadn’t been finalized. A month later, they announced that the group was preparing for an early June comeback.

Stray Kids taking a picture on the beach

Image Credits: Stray Kids via Twitter

Stays were hyped when 5-STAR’s album trailer (below) dropped on April 28. Two days later, Stray Kids released their tracklist and timetable, which were modelled after the solar system and constellations.

Three sets of solo, unit, and group photos were released. The first set dropped on May 9 and featured some colorful and outlandish costumes.

Stray Kids promo images for 5-STAR (first set)

Image Credits: Stray Kids via Twitter

The second set dropped on May 16, blowing Stays away by the soft and literally sparkling visuals.

Stray Kids group photo "S-Class" second set

Image Credits: Stray Kids via Twitter

Meanwhile, the third set dropped on May 23 and showed a crisper, cooler side of the group.

Stray Kids group photo "S-Class" third set

Image Credits: Stray Kids via Twitter

Starting on May 7, “unveils” (teasers) for five of the tracks and mood films for each of the members were released. Finally, on May 25, a mashup of all the tracks appeared, showcasing fun animation and the variety of genres that would appear in 5-STAR.

Two teasers were released for the music video for the title track “특(S-Class)”. The first one (May 28) had solo shots and featured breathtaking views of the Han River.

The second teaser showed the chorus. Its sharp choreography, EDM-infused instrumentation, and enunciated lyrics had fans curious about what the rest of “특(S-Class)” would sound like.

The same day the second teaser came out, 5-STAR broke a record. It became the most pre-ordered K-pop album, beating Seventeen's FML, with 4.93 million pre-orders on May 30 and then 5.13 million on June 1.

Stray Kids' "5-STAR" album cover

Image Credits: Stray Kids via Twitter

Stray Kids dropped their "Intro" video on June 1. It included behind-the-scenes stories about 5-STAR and some short clips of the songs. However, the video also showed how committed the members are to improving themselves and their music. To quote Changbin, they have “the attitude of working hard and not being satisfied.”

Leading up to “특(S-Class’)” official release, the members also released challenge videos with the song and a teaser of the music video’s SKZOO version. Needless to say, Stays were really excited and impatient for the song's release!

특(S-Class)”: A Title Track Analysis

In their “Intro” video, several of the members admit that they hadn’t liked “특(S-Class)” on first listen. Han even calls the song “polarizing.” And for a group as experimental as Stray Kids, “특(S-Class)” is one of their more ambitious projects.

Han River at night

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

The establishing shots tell you how big-budget the video is. They are overhead and helicopter shots of the Han River, with Stray Kids on a barge at night.

SKZ' Felix whistling

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

“특(S-Class)” starts with whistling from Felix (above) before switching to Changbin (below). After crying out, “This is Seoul City!” he raps about “a special star,” establishing the song's theme.

Changbin on a barge at night with members

Image Credits: Stray Kids at YouTube

Hyunjin starts the first verse. Continuing Changbin’s train of thought, he compares Seoul to a “bustling street” that is both odd and unchanging.

Hyunjin in alley and strange characters in alley

He encounters a double of himself in a neighborhood at night. In that same location, Stays may recognize references to past tracks, such as “God’s Menu” and “Thunderous.”

Han in a factory and Bang Chan on a garbage truck

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

Han (above left) and Bang Chan (above right) share the second part of the verse, which talks about removing anything useless or cluttering the streets.

Stray Kids in street clothes at back of a dump truck with Christmas lights

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

Eagle-eyed Stays may notice that the members’ outfits at this point resemble the outfits from the "Easy" and "Any" music videos.

Seungmin in a factory

Seungmin sings the first part of the pre-bridge. He calls himself “Luxurious like I’m an S-Class” and the top of “First Class.”

Three cars on a highway at night

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

He also mentions “Serpent Road.” Stays debate whether it’s a Dragon Ball reference or just a windy road that, if taken too fast, can lead to certain death.

Felix standing on a metal set of stairs

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

Felix takes over (above), bringing the interstellar imagery back by comparing himself to a star. ("I'm up above the world, so high / I'll be there shining day and night") It transitions nicely to the explosive chorus, led by Hyunjin and Lee Know.

Stray Kids doing choreo for "S-Class" chorus

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

The chorus is both choppy and catchy ("Counting stars / The most special star 6x... / It's flashy 3x, we're S-Class"), matched with an equally aggressive choreo. 

Stray Kids dancing with doubles in "S-Class"

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

Stray Kids’ doubles dance with the members. While this is a trippy scene, it's normal compared to what is about to appear in the second half of the video.

Stray Kids in a graffiti-lined alleyway

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

The second verse slows down the tempo and switches to an old school hip-hop sound, as reflected by Changbin’s words: “I take big hip-hop steps, being special is my specialty.”

Changbin smirking at the camera in a graffiti-lined alley

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

Han then calls out “nobodies” who chase after anything shiny and instead tells listeners to “be the one to shine.” Reflecting the switch-up in genre, the set changes to a graffiti-lined alley and what appears to be a garage.

Han and members under a car with the screen flipped horizontally

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

Bang Chan and Seungmin bring back the pre-chorus. While Bang Chan’s part looks like an action movie, including another drive down “Serpent Road” and more scenes on the Han River barge…

Bang Chan driving with Lee Know and dancing with members

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

Seungmin's looks like a sci-fi/monster flick with an underwater creature that takes out faceless people as the initially oblivious singer listens to music.

Seungmin at the pool listening to headphones

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

The chorus returns (led by Felix and Bang Chan), more distorted than earlier and accompanied by fire and red lights (perhaps a reference to another Stray Kids song).

Stray Kids dancing in the firelights and under red lights

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

I.N.’s angelic vocals introduce the bridge, accompanied by choreography (done with Bang Chan and Lee Know) reminiscent of a shooting star.

Lee Know, I.N., and Bang Chan holding hands

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

Bang Chan asks Stays not to leave (“Stick around in the same place")...

Bang Chan crossing arms while staring into the camera with members

Image Credits: Stray Kids via Youtube

Before Seungmin confidently sings, “Shining people, that’s our intro, we’re special.”

Seungmin in red lighting at an angle

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

The bridge's second part is a trade-off between Changbin, Han, Hyunjin, and Felix. They reinforce Stray Kids’ artistry and passion, comparing themselves to a bright beacon. ("Our light becomes one, lighting up every corner here")

Stray Kids rappers

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

In the background, chaos breaks out as the monster reveals itself and starts a fight with a SWAT team inside a swimming pool. Meanwhile, right before the final chorus, a car explodes and flips over without explanation.

Octopus at a pool fighting soldiers, with a car exploding behind Han and Felix and beside Hyunjin

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

The last chorus (led by Hyunjin and Lee Know again) is even more EDM-heavy, cutting between locations (including the pool) before ending where it all began on the Han River.

Stray Kids with monster and Stray Kids on a barge (S-Class)

Image Credits: Stray Kids via YouTube

With all these amazing qualities, it’s no wonder that “특(S-Class)” was chosen as 5-STAR’s title track.

The Rest of 5-STAR

Like “Super,” the title track to Seventeen’s FML which we reviewed a few months ago, “특(S-Class)” was the second track on Stray Kids’ album. Let’s go through the rest of 5-STAR.

First up is “Hall of Fame," an intense rock number. While name-dropping various inventors, scientists, and the astronaut Neil Armstrong, Stray Kids put themselves in the history books with their current accomplishments and innovative nature. ("Shaking the industry, quaking reality, making it iconic")

After “S-Class” comes “Item,” sounding like a video game theme with its 8-bit inspired instrumentals. Its lyrics, sung with sharp enunciation, compare the members to Pac-Man that eats every item, while at the same time not depending on them for their success.

One of two English songs on 5-STAR, “Super Bowl” has nothing to do with American football. It's as much about cooking as “God’s Menu.” In fact, “Super Bowl” was supposed to be “God’s Menu”! Here, the members boast about their flavorful music and Stays’ need for more.

TOPLINE” is Stray Kids’ second collaboration with rapper Tiger JK and their first recorded song with him. In this track, the members sing about being the topline, above the rest of the competition, while staying humble and still aiming higher.

Short for “Dance Like Crazy,” “DLC” dives into moombahton, a new genre for Stray Kids. The lyrics are about dancing all night and trying to forget about your problems. It’s more somber once you look up the words.

Continuing the “party like there’s no tomorrow” theme, we have “GET LIT,” an aggressive EDM track. Stray Kids represent the current Gen Z crowd, having fun at night while trying not to think about work the next day.

Introduced by trumpets, “Collision” is a sensual yet sad song about a love that has ended. The title refers to stars that have collided, leaving fragments that scatter just like the memories of a past relationship.

FNF” (short for “Flora and Fauna”) has a special significance for leader Bang Chan. He wrote this track while missing the wildlife of Australia where he grew up. The lyrics reference the fires that have devastated the continent. “FNF” is another song that is sadder when you look at the translation and hear the story behind it.

The other English song off 5-STAR, “Youtiful” is a ballad and love letter, meant to reciprocate the unconditional love that Stays give Stray Kids. The beautiful melody and words will bring tears to both casual listeners’ and loyal fans’ eyes.

5-STAR also includes the Korean version of “The Sound,” the title track to the Japanese album of the same name (February 2023). Stray Kids claim their sound and place in the world, joining their voices to the World’s while following the songs in their hearts.

5-STAR ends with “Mixtape: Time Out,” which Stray Kids released on July 31, 2022. A fun rock track, the members tell listeners to forget about their past regrets and worries about the future and to follow the “gentle breeze.” It’s the perfect song to play on the way to the beach, and the perfect way to finish the album.


What did you think of 5-STAR? Which track is your favorite? Let us know in the comments. And don't forget to stream "특(S-Class)"!

Back to blog

1 comment

This Album is INSANELY good. It really shows SKZ’s versatility and range, and highlights the creative minds these boys have as well as their absolute hunger for more. I expect an even better second album and cannot wait to see what the future of Stray Kids holds. #STAY

Jessica Harden

Leave a comment


Craving some more? How about with Korean snacks!

Yes, you, you hit the right spot! Treat yourself to a box filled with unique snacks, exclusive K-pop merch, and K-beauty essentials, all sourced directly from Korea. Relish the thrill of exploring Korea each month and feel its heartbeat closer than ever!