Jung Kook's 'Golden' is 24-karat pop: Best songs on the BTS star's first solo album

With “Golden,” Jung Kook punched his ticket to pop superstardom.

Sure, as a member of BTS he had already reached pinnacles of fame most could only imagine. BTS was the first South Korean group to earn a No. 1 debut on Billboard’s Hot 100. They were the first K-pop singers to be nominated for a Grammy, and the first to perform at the awards. They hold more than 20 Guinness World Records titles, and that’s just scratching the surface.

Yet he was one of seven in a group that, however talented, ruled within the realm of K-pop.

That changes today.

Jung Kook of BTS released his debut solo album, "Golden," Nov. 3.
Jung Kook of BTS released his debut solo album, "Golden," Nov. 3.

Jung Kook’s debut solo album is an 11-track nugget of pop purity. With songs in English – a sharp detour from the Korean lyrics of BTS – he embraced a holistic, global version of his sound.

On “Golden,” Jung Kook manages to successfully meld oft-disparate genres including R&B, EDM, disco funk and pop ballads. The underlying themes of love and sex fit Jung Kook’s appeal and he showcases the vocal prowess of Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes with the stage presence of Usher and Michael Jackson.

The tracklist follows the emotional arc of a relationship, from the elation of falling in love (“Closer to You” featuring Major Lazer, and the Ed Sheeran-assisted “Yes or No”) to the torture of being let down (“Hate You,” which Shawn Mendes helped pen) and sorrow and self-doubt of a break-up (“Too Sad to Dance” and “Shot Glass of Tears”).

Jung Kook enlisted a handful of chart-topping musicians to join him on the album, a tactic that’s already proving successful. “Seven” featuring Latto, the album’s first single released in July, debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100 and became the fastest song to reach 1 billion streams in Spotify history.

You may think the album’s title “Golden” refers to Jung Kook’s Midas touch, but it’s a nod to his BTS nickname “golden maknae,” bequeathed to him as the group’s youngest and all-around talented member. It’s a name he both fulfills and grows out of on his debut solo album.

Here are our three favorite songs on his gem of an album:

“Standing Next to You”

The album’s main track is a retro groove that showcases Jung Kook’s impressive vocals as he promises his love, “We'll survive the test of time/ They can't deny our love/ They can't divide us." Grammy-winning producers Andrew Watt (Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus) and Cirkut (The Weeknd, Ye) steer the song through ebbs and flows and built-in dance breaks that are sure to be as appreciated on club dancefloors as arena tour stages. Just try to sit still listening to this funkified jewel.

“Yes or No”

If you’re asking, “Does this song remind you of Ed Sheeran?” The answer is yes.

And for good reason: The British star lent his guitar skills and penchant for melody to the track. But it’s Jung Kook’s vocal acrobatics that enthrall as he asks for an answer to lovesick questions of “Are you feeling the rush?” “Are you thinking ‘bout us?” “Are we falling in love?” Cirkut and Blake Slatkin (Sam Smith, The Kid LAROI) are credited as producers on the snappy track.

Jung Kook of BTS released his debut solo album, "Golden," Nov. 3.
Jung Kook of BTS released his debut solo album, "Golden," Nov. 3.


This R&B-influenced track about letting go will stick inside your head.

Layers of bass propel the melody as Jung Kook attests "We both know / Say it again, say it again / Like oh, oh / Time to let go." This track is a shining example of his unique timbre, as he smoothly delivers daggers like “I hope to find somebody … I hope you know that somebody ain’t me.”

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jung Kook's 'Golden': Best songs including 'Standing Next to You'