Jung Kook of BTS released “Golden,” his debut solo album, on Nov. 3 through the music record label Big Hit Music.
Born on Sept. 1, 1997, Jeon Jung Kook is known for being the youngest member and main vocalist of the global South Korean boy band BTS. BTS stands for “Bangtan Sonyeondan,” a Korean expression which translates to “Bulletproof Boy Scouts.” The group is also referred to as the Bangtan Boys, and consists of the seven members: RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jung Kook. BTS also added the phrase “Beyond the Scene” as a new meaning to their name in 2017. According to The Washington Post, “BTS’s music is undeniably pop, but it’s also a lot of other things: R&B, EDM, rap and even rock.” BTS first debuted on June 13, 2013, with the release of their album “2 Cool 4 Skool,” and since then has collectively achieved a wide range of successes as a group, including 5 Grammy nominations, making a collective $35.6 million as well as selling close to 200,000 tickets over the span of their four “Permission to Dance on Stage – Las Vegas” shows and having six of their songs as No. 1 Hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Alongside naming him as one of “The 200 Greatest Singers of All Time,” Rolling Stone describes BTS’ Jung Kook to be “a strong performer, [who’s] written several songs and is known to be extremely hardworking and humble despite the success he’s experienced at such an early age.”
Big Hit Music announced Jung Kook’s solo album on Oct. 3 in a statement they released on Weverse, saying, “[‘Golden’] is an album inspired by the golden moments of Jung Kook, the golden maknae of BTS and a solo artist.” The term “maknae” means youngest in Korean, and “Golden Maknae” is a nickname given to Jung Kook. Prior to the release of “Golden,” Jung Kook had released “Seven” featuring Latto in July and “3D” featuring Jack Harlow in October. “3D” reached No. 5 on the Hot 100, while “Seven” reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 and also became the fastest song in Spotify history to have 1 billion streams. He was able to become the first South Korean soloist to have two songs in the top five of the Hot 100. Apart from “Golden,” Jung Kook’s solo music discography is known to include “Still With You,” “My You” and “Stay Alive” as part of the “7 Fates: Chakho” original soundtrack. Jung Kook’s discography also includes “Dreamers” as part of the 2022 FIFA World Cup official soundtrack and a feature on Charlie Puth’s song “Left and Right.” Solo songs of his that are a part of BTS’ albums include “Begin,” “Euphoria” and “My Time.” He also featured in The Kid Laroi’s song “Too Much” alongside Central Cee, which came out on Oct. 20.
The Associated Press refers to “Golden” as being “one of the strongest pop debuts of the year, a direct reflection of [Jung Kook’s] love of retro-pop sounds.” “Golden” has 11 songs, including the previously released songs “3D” featuring Jack Harlow and clean and explicit versions of “Seven” featuring Latto. The revealed track “Standing Next to You” has been labeled as the “main track” of the album and was co-produced by Andrew Watt and Cirkut. Major Lazer and DJ Snake feature on “Golden,” with Major Lazer featuring on the song “Closer to You” and DJ Snake featuring on “Please Don’t Change” while also being credited as a co-producer. The album also features Ed Sheeran and Shawn Mendes as having co-writing credits, with Sheeran being a co-writer and playing guitar on the song “Yes or No” and Mendes co-writing “Hate You.”
Jung Kook’s “Golden” album is the latest of the BTS members’ solo projects to be released. The group is currently on a hiatus, as all of BTS’ seven members plan on fulfilling South Korea’s mandatory national military service, and to also allow for each of the members to be able to pursue their own solo projects. BTS made the promise that they are not breaking up, with plans on reuniting as a group some time in 2025 upon the members’ fulfillment of their military service requirements.
BTS’ loyal fanbase, “A.R.M.Y.,” which stands for “Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth,” has been known to have grown prominently throughout the years since BTS first debuted. Their fans are known to exist worldwide, including in the UNLV community. Kay Leonor, a Social Work major at UNLV, considers herself a fan of the group and first got into them around the time that she was a pre-teen. Her initial exposure to BTS was through a friend of hers who would always play their music around her and would dance while listening to them and also talk about them a lot. She finds both their music and their personalities to have meaning, and shares, “What I love about BTS were that they were a small group back in 2015.” Leonor continues by saying, “They were really creative. They are really hard working; no excuses. They talk about real stuff [and] not typical K-Pop [as] there’s like poverty, mental health, racis[m], [and] up until now, disability [and] sign language.” When it comes to BTS’ songs, she names “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” to be her favorite and shares that it was inspired by a book called “Demian” by Hermann Hesse which talks about how “there’s evil in all good, and good in all evil.”
When asked about Jung Kook, she expresses, “He is very talented. When I say talented, he has multiple skills. He is very competitive and always like[s] to improve upon himself and is multi-skilled because when you look at their videos he can sing, he can dance, he can cook; it’s astonishing.” Her favorite song from Jung Kook’s solo music discography is “Stay Alive,” and she believes for herself to be happy for him and his solo career endeavors, saying, “I think I’m very happy for him because [him and] the rest of the group are becoming individuals. I think with Jung Kook especially he is able to be creative and express music in his own experience[s] and like learning for his own growth and character development.”
As for BTS’ requirement to fulfill their South Korean military service, she believes for this to be an opportunity for the members to grow and that it will serve to be another gained perspective for them. Leonor also expresses that she, along with the rest of the A.R.M.Y. fanbase, is looking forward to seeing what Jung Kook and the rest of the BTS members will do next.
Leading up to the release, Jung Kook expresses, “I’d like to continue to create my golden moments while preparing for diverse albums and performing together with my bandmates in the future. The golden moments of me and my bandmates have not ended yet.”
Physical copies of “Golden” are available for purchase at Target, Barnes & Noble, and Weverse Shop. “Golden” is available for streaming on both Apple Music and Spotify.