Review

Song Review: Stray Kids – Thunderous

Stray Kids - ThunderousFresh off their Kingdom victory, Stray Kids have returned with their second full-length album. Not many K-pop groups release two full albums back-to-back, but I’m sure Stray Kids’ self-producing status leaves them with plenty of material to choose from. Although last year’s God’s Menu was a fun, memorable title track, its parent album was stuffed with superior highlights that promised to push the group’s sound forward. It’s disappointing, then, that new single Thunderous (소리꾼) comes off as a retread rather than a step up.

Utilizing traditional instruments to forge a beat drop banger is not uncommon in K-pop. It’s always a welcome trick, but like any familiar trope it requires those basic building blocks – great hook, memorable melody – to stand on its own. My biggest gripe with Thunderous mirrors an issue I have with recent K-pop in general. Rather than focus on being an excellent song, it’s designed as a delivery method for attitude. I might be in the minority, but I don’t listen to K-pop for attitude. When it comes to Stray Kids’ recent career arc, I fear they’re more concerned with being clever than composing the iconic hooks that made tracks like Miroh and District 9 so enduring. Cleverness only gets you so far, especially when the audience comes to expect it.

With that said, Thunderous is still a cut above its peers. While the beat is more boisterous than thrilling, it’s stuffed with interesting samples that bring constant texture to the production. The song’s drop – which should be its centerpiece – only works in fits and starts. I feel like I’ve heard its… erm… thunderous synth a million times before, but the clattering percussion that follows is a nice touch. Unfortunately, the track is devoid of melody, relying on chants and exclamations when it would have been stronger embracing a more diverse structure. I’m so tired of this same “rap verse, bombastic pre-chorus, lumbering drop” template. It’s not new or exciting anymore, and quickly loses its appeal.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.5

47 thoughts on “Song Review: Stray Kids – Thunderous

  1. I liked this a lot more than I thought I would but I also think I like this style more in general (for example I don’t really like Miroh and District 9 which you mentioned). Hopefully they try something else next time too, it would be interesting to see.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. KIds are in school again for now, for who knows how long in person will last. So I came to my desk this morning at 0 dark 30 and clicked play. And then the start of this and the T1419 song also out today are like going 0 to 100 on no caffeine. OK, I sweared to sweet baby hey jesus on a flying flaming taco and I hunted around for the volume button.

    Now a few hours later. Yeah, the songcraft is very workaday. Its all about the bravado. It sounds like the 1st draft of God’s Menu, the version that got sent back to the kitchen for more cooking and came back as an overcooked stew.

    Liked by 10 people

    • I had to force myself to get the first cup of coffee down before diving into today’s MVs. It worked out though, because I’m spending the entire day in Zoom meetings and needed the extra jolt of WTFHEYBANG (but thankfully not SKRRT).

      Liked by 4 people

    • “It sounds like the 1st draft of God’s Menu, the version that got sent back to the kitchen for more cooking and came back as an overcooked stew.”

      Hehehe oh I love the expression!

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Though I really like skz, I’m really glad I didn’t have my expectations up. So yes, I enjoyed this quite a bit but I’m not really a fan though the video seems memorable. The album is not very memorable either and multiple tracks seem to merge because of similiar styles but I would pick red lights and secret secret as my highlights.

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  4. I really appreciate the percussion in the beat drop…it seems much more specific than some more “general thunderous percussion” sounds I’ve heard.

    yah I think SKZ is focused on attitude but also on this kinda self-referential cinematic personality squad…this really feels like a continuation of the SKZ from Kingdom.

    Maybe we’ll get another SKZ comeback in 2021 that will be a little more enjoyable to listen to sans video.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I feel like SKZ’s entire discography has been heavy on the self-important navel-gazing, which sounds really negative, and definitely could be if they weren’t able to maintain both authenticity and a higher-than-average production quality. SKZ started out projecting an underdog image, but went into KINGDOM as the favored sons and came out on top, which works nicely with the “we’re growing up and doing what we want” narrative from “God’s Menu” and “Back Door.”

      Liked by 5 people

  5. it’s pretty similar in style and structure to god’s menu/back door, so it’s not really my thing. the instrumental’s got a nice thump but I prefer melodic choruses

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah this song will probably n out be for people who like melodic choruses or songs. It’s far more heavily edm based. So if you are into drop choruses- hey this is for you. Their b side the view is more melodic in nature.

      Like

  6. I like this, but I don’t love it the way I love “God’s Menu”, or going back further, “Miroh” or “Side Effects”. I haven’t been through the whole album yet, but so far “Cheese” is my favorite – it’s weird in a way that “Thunderous” isn’t. Predictable is a good way to put it. Hilariously, as I recently commented on my dislike of I.N’s vocal style, I found his verse in the pre-chorus (?) the most interesting piece of the song musically.

    I’m very curious to see your reviews of today’s other two releases, because I think they each show different things you can do with this kind of attitude-heavy song, some more successfully than others. It looks like MIRAE might be joining that pack tomorrow from the sound of their trailer. On the one hand, I’d like to see more variety, but on the other hand, this is the kind of song that got me into kpop, so I feel very catered to today.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Exactly. The same formula has been followed and it was quite agonizing to hear the full song. The rap then the vocal pre chorus. I think the past 4 songs have been like that and made me missing their older releases like miroh or haven or levanter. I was really disappointed with this song as though, this was expected from the teaser. Hopefully straykids will ditch this style of the same pattern in a song.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t mind the song, and I definitely like it a lot better than a lot of the recent kpop boy group standard fare that follows the same formula, but it’s frustrating to see a group that I know can put together extremely strong, dynamic, interesting music release something so average. I know that the bravado is very in right now and Stray Kids can pretty much pull it off (see: God’s Menu), but it’s just not that interesting. Also, there was a cheeky self-awareness to stuff like God’s Menu that made it work much better despite being stylistically similar to this.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Yeah………seriously, why is literally EVERYONE using the same brass synths? Has something happened to the synthesizer that only plays one type of synth for boy groups?

    I went in with absolutely no expectations after the teaser, and ended up kind of liking it…mainly because, as you said, the traditional instruments and the music video. Also the song is kind of fun, with the little laugh before the second chorus and the bridge. Still patiently waiting for another Side Effects. They are at their best when they try something new, not retread the same type of song again. The album’s also nowhere nearly as good as Go Live, Cheese and Domino are my favorite off it.

    Atleast the video’s their best though.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. I totally agree. I would also rate it a 7.5. I just don’t really enjoy this type of instrumental, and would much rather hear more richer and melodically driven ones.

    The album, however, is very good imo. I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t listened, but i think it was very consistent on first listen, with my favourite song being Star Lost (Haven’s brother!?) followed by Domino and The View. Silent Cry was also great but i think i need time adjusting to that one.

    Overall, Stray Kids definitely showcase their talent but i don’t think they quite reached my high expectations with this comeback.

    Now that this concept is out of the way, i hope they return to more of their powerful electronic music that dominated 2019.

    Liked by 6 people

    • I’m listening to this in chunks during my Geneva Convention-mandated breaks between Zoom meetings today, but I think I’m with you on this being a pretty strong album. I hear the ties between “Star Lost” and “Haven”, but unlike “Thunderous” and “God’s Menu”, “Star Lost” feels like it builds on its predecessor rather than simply retreading it.

      Liked by 3 people

  11. I like these kids as people – they are hilarious and quirky. I know all their names, something I can’t even claim for Golden Child. (I love them, but it’s a struggle). I’m a sucker for Aussies anywhere. They made three great songs – Miroh, Side Effects, and Back Door. I like Danceracha’s WOW. But everything else…it’s just so ponderous, and tight-assed and tuneless. People say “get into deep cuts” but life is just too damn short. i have more important things to do. Like learning Golden Child’s names.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. You know, I think they could’ve fit the element of electric guitar in this arrangement, It would’ve been pretty dull but at least there would be some more *oomph*.

    Speaking of electric guitar, CRAVITY’s very excellent b-side vending machine is awesome! It hits hard in the best way possible and that electric guitar solo is goosebump-inducing, Is there any chance it could get a buried treasure review, Nick?
    “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bboQcIAlt68”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha is “Vending Machine” a victim of autocorrect?

      I like Veni Vidi Vici, but not enough to write about. A more unique roster of vocal tones would have improved it. I just don’t see the appeal of CRAVITY, unfortunately….

      Liked by 1 person

      • It wasn’t a typo, the reason I wrote it like that was because the chorus sounds like: “vending machine go uuuuuuuhhhhhhhhh” in the most apathetic way possible. And also it’s much more easier to type.

        Leonardo DaVinci is a pretty good song to me and could’ve made a stellar title! that aforementioned guitar solo just hits hard!

        Like

  13. For the teasers I really thought there would be a few songs on the album that I’d really like but nothing really stands out at all which is a shame. The single is what I expected but really needed a more memorable drop than that chorus gives me. I really like that chaotic hyped up style verse that Stray Kids are clearly very good at but the chorus really needs to hit harder than this one. Not bad but I preferred Gods Menu.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also agree that the drop needed to be stronger. GREAT verses. Fantastic for me actually. But the drop is not as strong as a miroh or God’s menu.

      Like

  14. I actually disagree. I would rate this an 8.5. The raps were absolutely fire and everybody got some great lines.

    I dock it for the chorus because they could have made a better hook. I think this song is great for people who like the type of booming drop with no melody. If you like melody, then this song exactly for you.

    This is a comeback that is much better with the music video. So I understand why this isn’t everybody’s taste, However, this comeback suits mine 🥰

    Like

  15. As you said, this is definitely a cut above your average generic BG track but for a group like SKZ that have shown they can be so much more. It’s dissapointing.

    Offtopic but what are your thoughts on Mirae’s album spoiler if you’ve given it a listen

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like a strong album but an awful title track. And for a first comeback, they need the strong title more. Splash sounds like DSP threw away everything that made Killa unique and great.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Yeah I’m super dissapointed ngl. Killa is my SOTY so far so i was anticipating this comeback a lot. Hopefully the rest of the album is good though

        Like

  16. Okay I have to say that my bias is at a 10 for this group. They have a special place at my heart. While this era does not have the same punch as last era I believe it still gives some good gems.

    I’ve made it through half the album so far (classes started today so I haven’t had the time to fully listen).

    The b sides that I love thus far are cheese and the view. The view performance on m net is very cute and I would highly recommend it to any stay.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Everyone here has basically summarized how I feel about the song – from the teasers I wasn’t expecting much (aka God’s Menu 2.0), but I still ended up liking it a little more than I thought (due to interesting production and my bias for SKZ). At least there’s a full album to go with it!

    On a side note I’m appreciating the increased Lee Know focus 🙂 loving his center time and lines in this song, and he’s been appearing on other shows too, and he got that Music Core MC position recently!

    Liked by 5 people

  18. This is… fine. Stray Kids are one of my favorite groups, but this really doesn’t do much to excite me at all. As you and many others have said, the structure of rap verse-vocal prechorus-drop & chant chorus is beyond tired by now, and I really just wish I could remember a single melody from this song. I hope SKZ – and really any kpop group, regardless of gender or concept – leave this sound and structure behind soon.

    In terms of the album, it’s pretty good! No songs grip me as immediately as Phobia, Easy, or Blueprint did from their last album, and there are more songs that are just not my cup of tea (The View, Sorry I Love You, Gone Away), but it was still an enjoyable listen. Early standouts include Domino (who do I have to pay to get an entire song based on the breakbeat at the end?!) and Silent Cry. Here’s hoping Domino is their promoted B-side!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I actually like this song, probably more than you do. It’s at least an 8 for me. I normally don’t like this structure, but Stray Kids somehow always pull it off with enough panache that I am consistently impressed, and I haven’t placed my finger on why. Maybe I like their vocal tones. (This is a huge part of it.) Maybe the backing instrumentation/production is actually neat enough. I’ll have to pay more attention.

    But also I do agree that Stray Kids have kind of fallen into a holding pattern and there is a risk of diminishing returns. I wish they’d mix it up a bit next time. (Fwiw, this is a criticism I can make of *many* groups — hell, even Dreamcatcher, whose material I generally love, have fallen into a bit of a holding pattern with their titles and I’d love to see them commit even more to the occasional weirdness they hint at!)

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I think through this comeback I realized how far I’ve fallen out of touch with their music. I was absolutely enamoured with their debut and Miroh, Side Effects. Unfortunately now… it seems like their recent promoted songs seem to overlap with each other… Perhaps this is the musical direction they want to take… I’ll have to take a step back.

    Like

  21. As Soule had pointed above, I have lost touch with Stray Kids singles. If this was released in 2019 after Levanter I’d be highly disappointed, but I actually enjoy it after the disaster that was their last Mixtape and that miserable Wolfgang performance.

    The song lacks any bones, but it has strong fat keeping it from collapsing.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Usually for songs that is built upon this particular kind of sound, I would say this is usually not my cup of tea. But, “Thunderous” is a lot better than I thought, and it’s definitely growing on me. I think that may have to be thanks to the group’s performance and delivery that elevated “Thunderous” a lot more.
    Maybe apart from ATEEZ, Stray Kids is the only boy group I trust that can make this kind of sound work.

    For the bsides… I really like “Silent Cry”!
    The bside reminds me a bit of TOBU and as an EDM lover, that extended pre-chorus and the instrumental bridge is EDM bliss.

    Shout out to “Red Light” (Bang Chan and Hyunjin bounce off each other so well) and “Star Lost” too.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. The song had a good start but really led upto nowhere.The boys have so much personality to carry a song on their shoulders,so they somehow pull it off,but it is definitely not the best that they can put out.They are better at this game if you look at other bgs following the same formula but it may soon fizzle out if they dont add some ‘life’ to their songs in addition to attitude.

    Like

  24. This honestly sounds like a CF song 😬 with these kind of “malatang” songs, it’s always the same beat drop with the same synth used and I’m so over it. They’re so focused on stuffing “moments” into the song it loses the traits it needs to become a “moment” and becomes anticlimactic all throughout the song.

    Like

  25. I like this song alright. I’m happy to be experiencing my first comeback with them no matter what, but unfortunately “Thunderous” is, as others have mentioned, a similar song to “God’s Menu” or “Back Door” but it doesn’t feel like it has the flavor that made those songs special. “Back Door” seemed to build on what “God’s Menu” had already established, so “Thunderous” ends up feeling like a bit of a retread.

    I feel reasonably certain that we’ll be getting a repackage of this album too, so I’m curious to see what their next title will be, and if it will offer a departure from this pattern. From the album, I like “cheese” and “domino” as well as “sorry I love you.” “Domino” could have been a great title track, I think….

    Like

  26. It may not be my favorite Stray Kids sound, but it sure is fun and exhuberant. I love Changbin and Han rapping so much. Miroh and Side Effects are more to my taste but I can see what people like about it. I hope they keep mixing it up.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I’ve found myself skipping this in favor of “Cheese” or “Domino”, but the performances have unsurprisingly been delightful. Maybe the second thing that attracted me to SKZ was their use of interesting imagery over strict formations in their choreo, and this is definitely more of the same.

    Also, can someone please tell me if “I’m not sorry, I’m dirty” means something in the lingo of the Younger People, because to my ear it just sounds like gibberish, which I’d excuse in a different group but not a self-produced group with two native English speakers and two more at or near fluency.

    Like

  28. This ain’t mine, I found of on reddit. It explains my point of view more than I ever could

    Definitely unpopular based on how many comments I saw in the megathread calling Thunderous “God’s Menu 2.0”, lol. As someone who ults Stray Kids and has listened to their full discography multiple times, and as a fan of EDM, I can say with confidence that Thunderous is not like any other song in SKZ’s discography, and I never once thought of God’s Menu while listening to Thunderous. Honestly, if you’re looking for God’s Menu 2.0, you’ll have more luck with Domino than Thunderous. (I could analyze Domino here too to show how much closer it is to God’s Menu but this post is already going to be long enough, lol.) So, let’s get into some song analysis!

    General composition

    Both songs are in this sort of hybrid EDM/hiphop genre with trap influence, which is a pretty popular genre nowadays and is definitely a favorite of SKZ’s. They both also have onomatopoeia before the chorus drops: “du du du du du du” in GM and “ptui ptui ptui ptui” in Thunderous.

    The similarities basically stop there though. GM is in the key of F and has a BPM of 157 while Thunderous is in the key of C# and has a BPM of 172 – however, Thunderous has a half time feel to it unlike GM, which actually makes it feel more like 86 BPM, quite a bit slower than GM. Overall, the instrumentals for GM are actually fuller and “noisier” than Thunderous in my opinion (despite the whole “Noeasy” thing). Thunderous also rides its beat more loosely, giving the song an almost swing/jazzy feel – further emphasized by the bass in the instrumentals – while GM pushes the beat to the point of almost rushing. Finally, a smaller thing, Thunderous has far more onomatopoeia than GM with them imitating the sounds of thunder.

    Structure

    I saw a surprising number of people saying the songs have the same structure considering they really do not, lol. u/archfeybaby explained the structure of the two songs way better than I ever could, so I’m just going to copy their comment here:

    God’s Menu: Intro, Verse, Prechorus, Chorus, Post-Chorus, Verse, Prechorus, Bridge, Chorus, Intro (re-used)

    Thunderous: Verse, Prechorus, Chorus, Post-Chorus, Verse, Prechorus, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus, Post-Chorus

    God’s Menu lacks a second third* chorus or any variation in the chorus, whereas Thunderous’ chorus escalates in the final act. Thunderous lacks a specific intro/conclusion and has a longer, more detailed bridge. God’s Menu has a more repetitive instrumental, but breaks it apart for the prechorus. Thunderous has a more varied instrumental, but does not break into a completely different style for its prechorus.

    They also pointed out in this comment that Thunderous has a more traditional song structure, similar to Back Door, while GM’s structure is pretty non-traditional.

    Line distribution

    Yes, the two songs both start with Changbin then Han, and the first prechorus of each has Seungmin and Bang Chan. Also, both choruses are sung by all the members. Again, however, that’s about all they have in common. Here’s the line breakdown of each following the structure above:

    God’s Menu: * Intro: Changbin (5 lines) * Verse 1: Han (7 lines) * Prechorus 1: Bang Chan (4) – Seungmin (2) – I.N (1) – Hyunjin (1) * Post chorus: Bang Chan (2) – I.N (1) – Han (2) * Verse 2: Felix (2) – Seungmin/I.N (2) – Bang Chan (2) – Hyunjin (2) * Prechorus 2: Seungmin (4) – Han (2) – I.N (1) – Felix (2) * Bridge: Felix (4) * Outro: Changbin (5)

    Thunderous: * Verse 1: Changbin (4 lines) – Han (2) – Changbin (2) – Lee Know (1) – Hyunjin (1) * Prechorus 1: Seungmin (2) – Bang Chan (2) – I.N (1) – Lee Know (1) * Post chorus: Felix (1) – Changbin (2) – I.N (1) – Felix (1) – Bang Chan (1) – Felix (1) * Verse 2: Hyunjin (2) – Lee Know (1) – Seungmin (2) – Han (3) – Bang Chan (2) – Lee Know/Han (1) * Prechorus 2: I.N (2) – Seungmin (2) – Han (1) – Lee Know (1) * Bridge: Felix (2) – Hyunjin (2) – Lee Know (2) – Han + Felix call and response (5) * Post chorus 2: Felix (1) – Changbin (2) – I.N (1) – Felix (1) – Bang Chan (1) – Felix (1)

    As you can see, the line distribution is quite different between the two. The members have shorter parts overall and the parts are spread out more in Thunderous, and every section of the song involves more members than the corresponding section in GM, except for the prechoruses. (Also Lee Know actually has lines in Thunderous 😭)

    Message

    God’s Menu is about how SKZ creates different “flavors” of music for many people to enjoy, using cooking as a metaphor. Thunderous is about being confident in the music they create and their message and not caring what haters think of them. Quite different if you ask me.

    Conclusion

    Honestly, I feel like the people who say Thunderous is “God’s Menu 2.0” are the same people who say all 4th gen bgs sound the same. You can read more of my thoughts on that here, but basically, if you don’t listen to a lot of EDM-style music, then yeah, they might sound similar, but that does not mean they actually are similar. Of course, it’s fine if you don’t listen to EDM often, it’s definitely not for everyone, but if you don’t your opinions on EDM songs will be uninformed.

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