Fourth generation leaders, Stray Kids, known for their tendency to defy the preconceptions of K-Pop, bulldozed their way into the holiday season with the release of their very first holiday single album Christmas EveL. The album follows the group’s record-breaking success from their last full studio album NOEASY, which sold over 1.1million copies in under two weeks and earned them the historical title of JYP Entertainment’s first million-selling artist.
Made up of I.N, Seungmin, Felix, HAN, Hyunjin, Changbin, Lee Know, and leader Bang Chan, Stray Kids constantly seek new ways to push boundaries and force those that come across their music outside of their comfort zones. In an interview with GQ Australia, Bang Chan expressed, “We’re unique and experimental, that could be the reason why opinions are so polarizing, but as long as we like it, and if there are people out there who like it the same way as we like it, then it’s a win-win situation.”
The group gained incredible global recognition and adoration over the past year with their first place win on Mnet’s ‘Kingdom: Legendary War,’ a survival program where they competed against a collection of other prominent K-Pop groups, and the release of their monumental, second full-length album NOEASY, which won them a number of awards. Despite the rise in popularity, Stray Kids refuses to falter or drift away from their identity as artists and individuals. They pride themselves on revealing an authentic character that can be seen and heard through their music.
Christmas EveL acts as a surprise Christmas present to pay back the unconditional love and support of their loyal fandom, STAY. The album consists of the double title tracks “Christmas EveL,” and “Winter Falls,” “24 to 25,” and an English version of their popular B-side track from NOEASY, “DOMINO.” The ensemble exhibits the group’s ability to consistently create something entirely new. Especially with a genre like Christmas that typically consists of recycled music, lyrics, and themes, Stray Kids took the overused melodies and concepts to craft a piece that still provides holiday cheer while being completely original and full of their eccentric essence.
Produced and written by 3RACHA (composed of Bang Chan, Changbin, and HAN), the first title track “Christmas EveL” incorporates the group’s high-spirited, mischievous energy by infusing signature hip-hop elements with bell-like synths and chimes to provide an edgy, festive sounding track that details the overhyped annoyances that occur during the winter season. HAN and Changbin come in strong with, “The overnight snow is pretty for just a second / Romantic? Not,” setting the tone. The pre-chorus, consisting of Lee Know and I.N, provides a strong build up that leads into sirens, a sound usually foreign to Christmas tracks, and an eerie “Merry Christmas” that sets up Felix’s almost hypnotic “jingle jingle jingle all the way.”
A comedic music video complements the track to amplify the group’s wittiness and humor. Following the same storyline from NOEASY’s trailer earlier this year, the boys take on the role of substitute Santas after the original found himself in the hospital due to Sound Monster attacks. They then prepare and deliver presents by the means of a magic truck. The music video embodies chaotic goodness, ending with Stray Kids dancing around while chanting a sample from the iconic Christmas classic, “Feliz Navidad.”
Up next, “24 to 25” completely switches gears to offer a soft, guitar instrumental and smooth vocals to convey a passionate longing to spend Christmas Eve with STAY. Skillfully written by Bang Chan, the comforting melody and strategic use of their fandom name in the lyrics, “STAY for Christmas” and “Just STAY with me,” caresses fans by offering a warm and sweet atmosphere.
The second title track, “Winter Falls” presents an entirely different aura than the former of the album. Written exclusively by HAN, known for his elegantly heartbreaking lyrics, the song expresses winter bestowing complex emotions and the painful remembrance of a past relationship. Sung over a warm, rhythmical melody, “Winter Falls, the snow falls / Purer than anything / Falls, I’ll try to erase everything about you / That still remains with me / I loved you, loved you, loved you,” emphasizes the internal conflict occurring within. A cinematic, gloomy music video accompanies the song to depict Stray Kids in deep thought, reminiscing painful memories of a failed relationship prompted by the winter’s chill. The members sing their lyrics into a pay phone, showing a moment of weakness to contact someone out of reach. Throughout the entirety of the video the environment remains dark and dreary until the end when the group surrounds a massive bonfire. As the fire burns brighter and higher, the members begin to grin to represent their dark thoughts being burned away with the flames.
Rounding out the album, members Felix and Bang Chan collaborated with rapper Junoflo to create the English version of the B-side track “DOMINO” from NOEASY. Stray Kids’ reinterpretation of the original lyrics only magnified their braggadocio mindset and that following their trendsetting footsteps will ultimately become inevitable.
Stray Kids strive to break free from the grips of formalities, tradition, and an outdated system. Becoming pioneers in the industry, they hone in on their craft to tell their story in a way that embodies their personality and authenticity. They acquire the ability to constantly adapt while staying true to their core values and beliefs.
Make sure to stream Christmas EveL on all listening platforms!