Golden Maknae
Elite Daily ranks Jung Kook's latest album, 'Golden.'
On Golden, Jung Kook Takes His Rightful Seat At The Pop Table

This album is guaranteed to make listeners blush.

Courtesy of BigHit

Jung Kook has always had a vision for his solo project. “This is what I want: Three main tracks all with their own music videos [and] each has its own choreography, but with different styles,” he said in February 2021, an optimistic smile affirming his words at the time. While that seemed to be the desired plan for his then-upcoming mixtape, that release never left the studio’s grounds. Fortunately, this delay led to a larger moment for the singer: his debut album, Golden.

True to his perfectionism, Jung Kook kept his two-year promise on Golden. Ahead of its release on Nov. 3, the singer set the bar high with two chart-topping singles: “Seven” featuring Latto (which recently became Spotify’s fastest record to reach a billion streams) and the Jack Harlow-assisted “3D.” Then, to top off Golden’s arrival, he shared the music video for its main track — and already, a hit that has me in a chokehold — “Standing Next to You.”

These tracks are more than just flirty appetizers, but a reminder that Jung Kook’s idol status isn’t limited to his presence in BTS. He is the golden maknae, after all. He unapologetically reclaims that nickname (a nod to being the youngest, multi-talented member of the band) on the album, and it’s clear he knows this is his main character moment.

Jung Kook’s at his most unfiltered on Golden, an aura that can turn the simplest of melodies into an impressive statement. He takes listeners on a nonstop ride of emotions, where one stop sees him serenading listeners over silky R&B while the other explores different hues of pop. Even during the album’s dullest moments, he’s still a student of his craft. Welcome to the solo pop star circle, Jung Kook.

In honor of Golden’s release, let’s rank the album in its entirety.

“Please Don’t Change” ft. DJ Snake

Jung Kook’s lane of pop is quite nostalgic. He either takes inspiration from the Y2K greats, or taps into the EDM wave that was inescapable in the mid-2010s. He chose the latter for “Please Don’t Change” featuring DJ Snake, a swaying plea for his partner to remain the same as their relationship grows.

If this track didn’t debut on Golden, it could’ve easily been mistaken for a dance hit that released in 2015. Using that exact formula, bar-for-bar, makes the tune sound hollow at times, but it makes sense that he tipped his hat to such a memorable era of pop music.

“Too Sad To Dance”
Courtesy of BigHit

“Too Sad To Dance” is another familiar throwback — specifically, it time travels back to Justin Bieber’s reign in the mid-2010s. The track has an undeniable essence of Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” starting from the opening electric guitar to Jung Kook’s vocals, which stays in a low register until his pitchy whistles in the outro.

“Shot Glass of Tears”

Let’s raise our glass to heartbreak. On the somber track, Jung Kook dwells on situations that have left him emotionally scarred. He doesn’t focus on one event, but rather expresses his sorrow in a way that’ll feel universal to anyone.

“Hate You”

The pained sorrow continues. Jung Kook’s a singer of big emotions, especially when he’s cooing about losing love and finding it again beneath the strobe lights of the dance floor. Or in this case, a ghostly piano ballad.

On “Hate You,” which is co-penned by Shawn Mendes, the crooner comes to a rather heartbreaking realization: He’s willing to harbor ill will for his ex-partner in order to heal from the failed relationship. It all sounds cataclysmic; however, he makes the decision sound like a spellbinding lullaby.

“Yes or No”

It’s time for another trip in the pop time machine. Instead of elongating his visit to EDM’s once-prominent takeover, Jung Kook surprisingly flips the script. He veers left, digging into his Ed Sheeran and Jesse McCartney bag with ease on “Yes or No.” The track, which has a guitar rhythm similar to McCartney’s “She’s No You,” sees the K-pop star longing for love, as he’s willing to give his all if his potential partner is willing to accept it.

“Seven” ft. Latto
Courtesy of BigHit

It’s the saucy track that had ARMYs clutching their proverbial pearls. Before Golden’s release, it was unclear what sonic direction Jung Kook would take for his debut. However, what fans didn’t expect was the singer going so explicit — but it’s a welcome new direction, nonetheless.

Clad in U.K. garage synths, Jung Kook ravenously reminds his partner he wants her love “seven days a week.” That promise only doubles over in that infamous, “night after night, I’ll be f*cking you right,” line, which might be the most iconic verse in his discography.

“Closer To You” ft. Major Lazer

In the first half of Golden, Jung Kook easily commands listeners’ attention. There’s no room for that gaze to be lost, as each beginning track throbs with an uptempo production enough to make an impact.

“Closer To You” rides that hypnotic wave, thanks to Major Lazer’s ear for a pop-reggaeton rhythm. Jung Kook makes his desires for physical contact known throughout this tune, so much so his voice creeps to an alluring whisper by the track’s outro.


Oh, “Somebody,” the brewing star you are. This track is positioned in the second half of Golden, which seems to linger in a haze that’s both interesting yet slightly bland. However, this track missed that gray area and rose straight to legendary status. Jung Kook’s vocal whirls, which complement his desire to find someone, had me hooked on the first listen.

“3D” ft. Jack Harlow

There’s something about Jung Kook’s timbre on “3D” that’s undoubtedly impressive. His tone glides like warm honey over the track’s funky baseline, which feels eerily reminiscent of Justin Timberlake’s 2002 Justified gem, “Señorita.” The magnetism on this record can’t be duplicated, and it makes for an ideal introduction to a debut album.

“Standing Next to You”

It’s almost criminal that “Standing Next to You” wasn’t considered to be a lead single. Sure, “Seven” and “3D” excel in their own right, but this funk-soul track has a certain je ne sais quoi that deserves to be praised. It seems Jung Kook agrees, as he branded this stunner the album’s only “main track.”

Between fluttery falsettos and soulful belts, the singer promises that his love isn’t short-term. He implies that a romance with him can “stand the test of time,” and he’s willing to fight through a hell-storm to prove it.