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When someone thinks of k-pop, worldwide groups like BTS, Blackpink, or Twice might come to mind first, but right behind the big three is a younger group, full of passion and skill, absolutely dominating the music scene. Not only have they broken records previously held by only BTS, they are right on their tail when it comes to streams, awards, and views. Stray Kids, often shortened to SKZ, are the future of k-pop, and sure to be one of if not the biggest upcoming boy group. 

Their newest album titled “MAXIDENT,” explained by the oldest member and leader of the group who goes by the stage name of Bang Chan as a somewhat shortened version of “maximum accident”, topped the Billboard 200, hitting spot number one. This comes after their previous album, “ODDINARY,” achieved the same feat, knocking out other big names in k-pop. They are the second ever Korean act to top the Billboard 200 multiple times, let alone two albums in a row, second to only BTS once again. 

“MAXIDENT” is a good example of what fourth generation k-pop often attempts to do. Noise music, a rising genre around the world, is Stray Kids’ strength. “MAXIDENT” has a unique sound that falls in line with their previous releases, able to carry the group’s signature sound while bringing something new to the table with every track. Thanks to their unit of producers in the group who go by 3RACHA, as well as the other members’ involvement in certain tracks, it’s no wonder that Stray Kids is able to have such personalized music that still hits every single time, something that many new groups lack. 

As someone who has been a fan of Stray Kids since late 2021, I have been around for three album releases, and the tracks of “MAXIDENT” deserve a full review. 

“Case 143” (title track): Based off of the teasers that they released for the title track, I was extremely hesitant and the most afraid for this one. I didn’t like the parts that they released individually and I was worried that I wouldn’t like the song at all. I found the English phrases a little cringe and I didn’t enjoy the choppiness; it reminded me of less than satisfactory songs I have listened to in the past, such as NCT’s Sticker and NMIXX’s O.O. However, after listening to the whole song I realized that it all came together and worked very well, and Bang Chan’s part from one of the teasers ended up being my favorite part of the whole song.

“Chill:” I absolutely love the instrumental at the beginning of this song, it was quite literally very chill and for some reason reminded me of older songs from the early 2010’s in the sense of the arrangement and musical background. I love the rap portions and the singing portions equally, which I find easy to say with much of Stray Kids’ music. Members Hyunjin and I.N especially sound amazing in this song, though they all sound incredible all of the time.

“Give Me Your TMI:” This might be my favorite song off the album; it switches between this one and Super Board for sure! Changbin’s rap in the beginning is such a strong start, and then Felix’s gravelly voice right after is an instant hook. There’s a strong instrumental that 3RACHA is behind and it works so well with the lyrics and placement of the singing; it never feels too loud even though it falls under the genre of “noise music” and it’s all cohesive even though you can tell there are many things happening at once. HAN’s parts stand out the most in this song, and his voice just becomes addicting after a single listen!

“Super Board:” Out of all the teasers they released for the album, this one was my favorite. There is always one song that I know I’ll enjoy no matter what when it comes to their track unveil videos, and this time around, Super Board won. The visuals in the short clip were charming and eye-catching, and the music revealed just enough to hook me in and make me want to listen to the whole thing without ruining the entire chorus. The little ad-libs from members Hyunjin and Felix were also endearing, though non-fans might find these parts a little strange. Nearly a month after the release of the album, STAYs all around the world are happy to report that Super Board escaped the clutches of forgotten golden b-sides, something that previous releases DOMINO (NOEASY, 2021) and B ME (IN LIFE, 2020) had fallen victim to. 

“3RACHA:” Named for the golden trio of producers from the group, the song was much like them in the sense that it didn’t disappoint! A cleverly arranged song with multiple verses of smooth-flowing rapping and just the right amount of confidence made for a wake-up call in the midst of the album, something to separate the rock-inspired Super Board from the sensual song written and performed by the dance unit, TASTE. All three members that performed this song, Bang Chan, Changbin, and HAN, all let their natural talents shine through, with their impeccable flow and clever wordplay and lyricism. Each member had something that stuck in my mind, whether it was Changbin’s growl in his deep voice when he said the name of the song, or HAN’s claim to fame, or Bang Chan’s praise of his members while still retaining a badass, serious tone. 

“Taste:” As STAYs know, the inside joke of Bang Chan and his embarrassment when it comes to more sensual songs is infamous now, even circulating amongst other k-pop fandoms. Notable songs like “Drive” (2021) and “Red Lights” (2021) had his name on the credits, though he blamed other members Lee Know and Hyunjin for the lyrics that could be interpreted in many different ways. TASTE, written and performed by said members, proves that Bang Chan was correct: he was not the one behind the possibly dirty-minded lyrics. A sexy song with a killer choreography to match, all three members of dance sub-unit DANCERACHA ooze confidence and unbeatable stage presence, amongst heavenly vocals and incredible visuals. Probably the most ear-wormy song off the album in my opinion, TASTE was nothing short of unforgettable. 

“Can’t Stop:” Last but not least of the unit songs, VOCALRACHA, comprised of the two youngest members Seungmin and I.N wrote and performed an amazingly lighthearted and catchy song that might just be my favorite off of the whole album after Give Me Your TMI. Though 3RACHA is the primary genius behind most of Stray Kids’ discography, the two youngest members of the wildly successful group followed in their footsteps by producing, writing, and performing this incredible work of art. With a catchy introduction that starts off with I.N’s unique voice, I find myself replaying this song more often than the title track. Seungmin’s impeccable vocals shine through in every song, but especially in “Can’t Stop,” and the youthful element makes me feel like a young teen again in the best way possible. 

“Circus:” A Korean version of their Japanese release earlier in the year, “Circus” was nothing new, but nothing short of amazing. It was a splendid addition to the album with a new fresh twist on a previous release that only makes me appreciate the lyricism and multilingualism of the members even more than I already do. 

Overall, “MAXIDENT” might be my favorite k-pop comeback of the year, rivaled only by Stray Kids’ previous album release “ODDINARY” as well as rising girl group Kep1er’s “First Impact.” The sound is very authentically Stray Kids and representative of fourth generation k-pop, and I have to admire 3RACHA for their original, unwavering sound. Every song that they release is incredible and I can’t wait to see what’s next for them–they just keep outdoing themselves and topping their biggest achievements with every step they take! As they said in 3RACHA—their credit is always the biggest headline, and I’m sure this won’t be the last we’ll see of the k-pop superstars this year.

Phoebe Ham

CU Boulder '26

Phoebe Ham is a current contributing writer and editor at Her Campus CU Boulder (HCCU). Though she writes about a variety of topics, she enjoys writing about beauty, music, and Asian-American culture. Outside of Her Campus, Phoebe is mainly focused on her studies, though she hopes to expand her writing career further in the near future. She is a current sophomore at CU, and she is majoring in SLHS and minoring in both Linguistics and Education. Prior to her college career, she won an award for an original short story, and that was where she discovered her love of writing and posting her creations online. For several years, she ran a blog dedicated to her writing, which ranged from poetry and book reviews to short stories and novellas. In her free time Phoebe enjoys reading Asian-American literature, crocheting, and spending time with her friends. Recently, she has been into novels by Haruki Murakami, Min Jin Lee, and Ling Ma. Additionally, she has been trying to incorporate more of her crocheted creations into her wardrobe for sustainability reasons, as well as vocalizing the importance of Asian representation in media through her art.