Cover Photo: JYP Entertainment

Why Stray Kids is regarded the most successful and prominent South Korean K-pop boy group of their generation

While K-pop groups are a dime a dozen, those that stand out from the ‘inherently manufactured’ bunch and maintain their longevity are far and few in between. The same cannot be said about Stray Kids, the eight-member group that has been trailblazing through the Korean entertainment industry and shaking up K-pop’s status quo.

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As they ring in their third anniversary, let’s take a look at their awe-inspiring journey so far.

They survived the test of a reality show

In August 2017, Korean entertainment conglomerate JYP Entertainment (JYPE) announced plans for a male idol debut project through Stray Kids, the eponymously-named survival TV show.

Unlike other K-pop survival TV shows, where the agency would choose the contending trainees, group leader Bang Chan handpicked Lee Know, Changbin, Woojin (former member), Hyunjin, Han, Felix, Seungmin, and I.N. to the Stray Kids lineup. “Choosing the right people was a must because I’m going to be with them for a long time,” Dazed quoted Bang Chan as saying. “With everyone around me right now, I’m really glad we’ve become this team.”

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The members persisted through having to write their own songs and perfect their choreography within tight, ‘do or die’ deadlines, as well as being ruthlessly critiqued by their CEO before finally making their debut on March 25, 2018, with District 9.

They tore the K-pop textbook in two

Stray Kids has taken many unorthodox approaches in the K-pop group-making process, including music. While self-producing K-pop idols are rare, almost all of Stray Kids’ songs are produced by 3RACHA, the group’s subunit made up of members Bang Chan, Changbin, and Han. This means writing all the lyrics and melodies, a testament to their remarkable collective talent and music that truly comes from the heart, then working with arrangers who help polish the songs.

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“We are given a lot of freedom. It is mostly what we want to speak. It is our lyrics and our melodies. So we would write all our songs. We finish a song, and we would show it to our big boss, JYP. And he would give feedback on it. And yeah, it is beautiful teamwork,” Bang Chan told Forbes.

“Honestly, having the opportunity to even write songs for the team is a great big honour. But because we still have a long way to go, we hope to become songwriters who can inspire others and give energy and hope to people in need,” he added. 3RACHA continues to take charge of the creative process and manage Stray Kids’ musical direction.

They continue to raise the bar

Now with one studio album, two compilation albums, one reissue, eight extended plays (EPs), 14 singles, 25 awards, and multiple endorsement deals tucked under their belts, the group continues to exceed expectations. Not only did every new release effortlessly break records and top charts, but Stray Kids was also the only K-pop group named in Time’s The 10 Best Songs of 2020 list.

Of course, being some of the youngest K-pop idols in the current Korean entertainment industry means this is only the beginning and there’s more to come. So what's next?

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"We want to try new challenges, and create albums and songs that only Stray Kids can make. We’re not sure what songs we’ll produce, or what lyrics we’ll write, but we always aim to exceed people’s expectations. Please continue supporting us, and look forward to us in the future! Thank you!!" Han told Euphoria.