Song Review: Stray Kids – Venom

Stray Kids - VenomA week after its release, I’m feeling pretty ambivalent about Stray Kids’ Maniac. Like many recent tracks, its plusses and minuses cancel each other out and result in music that’s perfectly… fine. This indifferent impression carries through the entire mini album. The songs are generally okay, but there’s nothing pulling me back for repeat listens the way past albums have. Even so, Stray Kids continue their multi-song promotional push, releasing a music video for album opener Venom (거미줄).

With a few tweaks, Venom could have been a real standout. I like the glitchy beat and the horror show synths that sweep in to bring extra tension. The melodic pre-chorus is also a standout, anchoring the track and attempting to set up a satisfying pay off. Unfortunately, Venom refuses to play nice. Its hook pulls back, taking a minimalist approach that feels quite empty. This happens often throughout the album and it’s continually frustrating. Rather than deliver a full meal, these songs feel like appetizers for a feast that never comes.

Venom loses its focus as we careen into additional rap verses and instrumental shifts. I’m not saying every song must follow a strict verse/chorus structure, but if you’re going to play around with arrangement, you better make sure you’ve packed your song with standout moments. Venom’s black hole of a chorus makes this challenging. When the track meanders, there’s no sense of anticipation because you know we’ll just be returning to that dull drop once again. Casual listeners would be better off seeking out the album’s two unit tracks.

Hooks 6
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.25


25 thoughts on “Song Review: Stray Kids – Venom

  1. I’m still very charmed by Maniac, but the rest of the album is kind of dull. This one, I give it a 7.5, higher if there hadn’t been that bridge. Yeah, it also needed a better chorus, but the one here has a hypnotic feel that elevates it. Also, Felix.

    Waiting For Us is really the only other track that’s actually good other than Maniac on the album….

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The material actually is pretty good, but it is produced to hit at a level 8 when the songcraft could support an 11. Not every song could or should be turned up to 11, but this one here, yes, yes it could, and should. I agree with Nick, too minimalist when it could have been maximalist.

    Ah well, I suppose we wait for the MAMA stage.

    While we wait for that, I went to my usual trick which is tick up the bpm. 1.1x on youtube is about perfect. Try it!

    Meanwhile, I watched the Stray Kids performance of “Maniac” on Colbert the other night. Add another one on the long list of kpop dances that just don’t translate to US TV. I usually blame the camera work, but here I think it was canned in Korea so I don’t know what is going on. I had that feeling as with Itzy’s “Voltage” – if I were brand new to kpop and saw this, I would wonder if teenagers perform a hyper-stylized-synchronized dance in a foreign language is entertaining or just a clever trick. ‘

    (Also, that melodic prechorus line that starts at 0:34 sounds like it is quoting their own “Stop”.)

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Boy this has been one mediocre month hasn’t 💀. Still a few notable releases yet but given your scores I’m very curious to see how you muster up a top 3 at the end of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The oddinary album is their solid ep. Here’s my ranking.
    1. Charmer
    2. Maniac
    3. Muddy water
    4. freeze
    5. venom
    6. waiting for us
    7. Lonely st
    (The excessive autotune ruined it for me, especially on ‘astray’.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Stray Kids ‘Oddinary Album’ Review

    Venom [8,9,8,9] = 8.5/10

    – Cool crunchy synth thingo
    – The Pre-chorus is really really good. Best pre-chorus of the album. The chord progression is fantastic.
    – Very rap heavy and not particularly interesting
    – I do enjoy the song

    Maniac [7,9,8,8] = 8/10

    – I’ve shat on this song a lot, but it’s not even bad lol
    – The verses are mediocre – the melodies aren’t unique and the instrumental isn’t satisfying.
    – The chorus and bridge are fantastic. The synth bass is awesome. Really psychedelic – wish they went down the psytrance route again

    Charmer [7,9,7,8] = 7.75/10

    – I like the production on this, it’s pretty bouncy.
    – It’s catchy but nothing memorable.
    – Actually, Changbin’s… let’s call it ‘spit rap’ section in the middle is… interesting.
    – I don’t see myself coming back to it much tho

    Freeze [8,10,9,9] = 9/10

    – The rap is pretty good, I like the ferocity.
    – I love this instrumental. Love the hype of the pre-chorus with the siren-like synths and the aggressive synth bass. The bridge has cool chords and the dubstep drop is a BIG yes IMO. I do wish it had a stronger melody over it tho.
    – I can see many disliking this song.

    Lonely St. [9,8,7,7] = 7.75/10

    – Too much autotune for me
    – The melodies are nice
    – Catchy and pretty emotional

    Waiting For Us [8,9,8,8] = 8.25/10

    – I didn’t realise I liked this kind of music lol
    – The progression of the instrumental during the chorus is very warm
    – Nice rock touch
    – The melodies are good
    – A better version of Lonely St. IMO

    Muddy Water [6,7,6,5] = 6/10

    – Oh this is just absolutely not my thing
    – Honestly, I didn’t listen to the full song
    – The flows are alright
    – I don’t like much abt this song but it’s not a bad song – maybe it’s just my bias for skz

    Anyway overall this album isn’t their best. It’s one of their weaker ones. They did seem to experiment with some interesting electronic sounds I.e ‘Venom’ & ‘Freeze’ so I do respect that. I hope they have a dance track for their next album tho.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I see people ranking muddy water last, I feel like I’m losing my mind lol. Oh well… everyone’s different, taste is subjective etc…


      • “I didn’t listen to the full song” makes me mad though! Come on, I even sat through all of lonely st even though it’s the worst song I’ve ever heard from them… maybe some people just don’t care for rap?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Remove felix’s verse from muddy water it honestly would be the best song on the album imo. I love me a good dusty jazz-rap instrumental and Changbin & Han killed it.


          • That being said, I’m not surprised it’s not popular a hip-hop song of that nature will never go over too well with kpop fans. Learned that when I saw all the slander for BTS’s UGH :/

            Liked by 1 person

          • Oh take it back right now, Felix’s verse is my favorite! Then again, looking 👀 back at what you said 🗣 behind my back doesn’t matter cause I’m a winner 🏆🥇strong 💪 believer 😤 2️⃣4️⃣/7️⃣ with the members 👯‍♂️ scoring goals 🥅⚽️ like a team ⛹️‍♂️player 🤾‍♂️execute 💥🗡 the shadows 👤 all around me call me demon 👹slayyuuhhhhh


        • Yeah, I understand how you feel but you should understand the personal tastes of others. I’m very fond of songs with electronic instrumentals and uplifting melodies. I don’t really care for rap and rarely listen to what they say lol. I’m not trying to diss the song – it’s not even bad – but over the years I’ve grown to understand what type of music I like, and’ Muddy Water’ just isn’t it 😦

          Liked by 1 person

    • Alright alright I had to go listen to Muddy Water, and also BTS “Ugh”

      The real revelation is that Felix’s names transliterates as Peel-leek-shi.

      I think Muddy Water is OK. Its a straight forward contemporary hip hop song played against a clever choice of background music taken from somewhere. There is a matter of personal taste though. As someone who sings along to everything, for songs which are all rap I prefer the ones which have the rap rapped with a tonal center, meaning one can define the flow not just as words and rhythm and volume, but also center it on a low note, or around middle C, or up high (uncommon, usually rap goes for the basement). My favorite part is the low response part of the call-and-response chorus because it is in the basement.

      Then there is also the quality and cleverness of the background music selection. When I listened to “Ugh” I immediately thought ugh, because to me its all shouting for 3 or 4 minutes straight, and the background music did nothing for me. Daechwita is in the middle for me – it still is a lot of shouting, but I adore how it is placed against the traditional instruments. Plus the video is very cool.


  6. I really liked this album actually! There’s something different about each of the songs and I enjoyed it! Maniac is pretty fun and catchy!

    For Venom : That pre-chorus? It pretty much eats up everything else 😂 The rest of the song is catchy and easily hummable, but that one standout pre chorus gives me chills! The Instrumental at that part is just 🔥 This is definitely a song where a single part pretty much elevates the value of the whole!

    And for the other bsides :

    My favourite is Charmer! It’s pretty fun and balanced throughout!

    Then I like Muddy Water 😂 SKZ are the only group whose lyrics I care about and this one is kinda my style of song!

    Waiting for Us – Great song! A really good vocal showcase and I love the final parts?

    Freeze – I was CONFUSED 😂 But it did feel catchy by the end

    Lonely St. – The one I don’t remember much at all now lol

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I found the album to be pure Stray Kids. Loud, brash and unapologetic about their music. Maniac is a shift in tone but not an unwelcome one. Muddy Waters is a 90s hip hop fans dream and the fact that Stray Kids even ventured into this genre demonstrates that they don’t simply have rappers for show. Venom and Charmer are also songs demonstrating Bang Chan’s producers touch, trying out different sounds he’s found interested. In a industry saturated with overtly romantic babble, Stray Kids always break away and stand out.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve got your number Nick! Or at least our tastes match up here, because I also thought the two unit tracks were the best. Unfortunately it seems that freeze is the only other track that’s getting a music video.

    The funny thing is that as I said in my comment on “maniac,” waiting for us and muddy water are way more straightforward than anything else on the album and yet I find them the most successful. There’s nothing wrong with pushing genre boundaries but paradoxically, the somewhat “disjointed” style of maniac strikes many of us as trendy or samey. I wonder if there is a happy medium to be found between these two approaches. The two unit tracks bring a lot more restraint and I found them refreshing maybe for that reason…


  9. It’s so late but anyway I loved the album. And Muddy Water is the best b side so far for me (I mean, no doubt in that when you love old school hiphop😅).
    Overall, I loved 5 songs and already added in my playlist except Maniac and Lonely St.✌️


    • I really loved the production of this album and also the fact that they are trying new things with their music.One of their best albums I would say.


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