Review

Song Review: Stray Kids – Case 143

Stray Kids - Case 143Stray Kids have become one of a handful of groups defining the sound of K-pop’s fourth generation. Early on, I was a huge fan of their rap-meets-rock sound and its ensuing foray into EDM and trance. Since 2020, my interest in their music has become more hit and miss. The spark of creativity remains, but the big choruses of District 9 and Miroh have largely been replaced with truncated, catchphrasey hooks.

Those adjectives perfect describe Case 143 – the group’s freewheeling return to a bright concept. Like March’s Maniac, the track melds hip-hop verses to a rhythmic hook fueled by electronic undertones. The contrast feels less jarring here, but I’m not sure it’s any more successful.

This is very much a personal pet peeve (don’t kill me, fans…), but I’ve always had a hard time with content that feels overly pleased with its own cleverness. This has become a big part of Stray Kids’ appeal (ie: their “idea bank”), but I find it kind of exhausting. My brain wants the music to breathe and grow and lean into its strengths. Instead, it feels like they’re constantly waving things in my face. “Look at this!” “And this!” “Isn’t this cool?”

Stray Kids are cool. There’s no doubt about that. And, Case 143 has some standout moments. But, it’s not until the last few seconds when the song really comes together. The staccato nature of its chorus works well as a response to a contrasting melody line. On its own, it becomes repetitive very quickly. Paired with the throw-everything-and-the-kitchen-sink percussion that underpins much of the verses, Case 143 is a prickly beast. I’m not sure it’s for me – even if that descending hook is already lodged in my memory.

Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.75

52 thoughts on “Song Review: Stray Kids – Case 143

  1. I watched the teasers and wasn’t expecting to like it, but based on my first listen, I think it’s pretty darn fun. There are so many little catchy parts that make the song so satisfying. Though I do prefer choruses with solid melodies and amazing harmonies, I’m pretty happy with this. I’m really excited to listen to the rest of the album too!

    Also, shout out to the director! That music video is so entertaining and cool.

    Liked by 8 people

    • we can’t expect them to keep the same sound. if you enjoy songs like miroh and district9 than you can always listen to them. Skz always changes their sound, and a true fan will adapt.

      Liked by 1 person

      • the commenter didn’t really say anything about that though..? also idk if it was intentional but the “true fan” thing irks me a bit, not everyone has to like everything a group puts out. someone can be a superfan and still not have to “adapt” to a sound if they don’t like it. it’s ok to not adore a song, doesn’t mean you’re less of a fan for it

        Liked by 2 people

      • the commenter never really said anything about that though…? i’m guessing you meant to comment on the main post itself. also the “true fan” thing irks me a bit, idk if this was the intention, but this comes off like “you’re only a true fan if you like every release” which just isn’t true (and isn’t realistic). like you said yourself, skz experiments a lot, which inevitably means that there’ll be cbs that aren’t every superfan’s cup of tea. you’re not less of a fan if you don’t adore the latest cb.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I thought the chorus was going to be the snippet in the 2nd MV teaser, and I was pretty happy with that, but then the Tiktok snippets released and the most annoying line in the MV teaser (“I cannot explain this emotion”) became a whole segment…and I was like please don’t be the whole chorus LOL

    Well here we are and it is in fact the chorus. I don’t know what happened but it’s already grown on me, maybe it’s just too catchy, I don’t even know. Still wish Chan’s line near the end was the actual chorus, but I think I like this one! I also find the MV adorable so maybe that’s bias trickling in but we’ll see haha

    Haven’t checked out the album yet but just from the track teasers I’m excited for Give Me Your TMI…👀

    Liked by 3 people

  3. “overly pleased with its own cleverness” is a harsh but fair assessment of stray kids’ output as of late. and this is a group i absolutely adore – i actually first found out about them through this blog and have loved them ever since they topped your year-end list wit “miroh”. but their singles in the past couple of years have often felt like an attempt to live up to fans’ expectations of whatever qualifies as “weird” or “new” or “cool” or “edgy” in k-pop. That has occasionally produced some hits for me personally (i still love circus for reasons that are inexplicable to me, and thunderous went from a huge disappointment to a playlist mainstay in the span of a couple days). But I worry about their long-term trajectory a bit.

    That being said, I’m sure this will grow on me with a few listens – it seems like no matter what they do, that’s the case. As of now, it feels a bit disorganized.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, I also agree that it’s unfortunately a good way of summing up Stray Kids over the past couple of years. After God’s Menu blew up it feels like they’ve been stuck doing all these weird gimmicks in their title tracks to try and shake things up, but it ends feeling like they’re trying too hard to do something different instead of actually experimenting or making an actual song lol. Their bsides have been more successful as actual songs for me at this point.

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      • I wonder how many 神메뉴-dynasty-songs have left on Bang Chan’s laptop. As if it could be more than ten…(so scary)

        JYP Ent now is milking them in many ways, thus I’m so worried about how they’ll have the right amount of time and enough distant environment to reform their thoughts strongly, in order to completely change their opinions on making music. They’re subtly being manipulated by their own success. And looking at the achievement of Maxident, it’s tough for them to let the God’s Menu fortune go.

        Not only their after 2020 title tracks but also their most recent b-sides are 神메뉴 legacies. Give me your TMI from Maxident as they say it was done a long time ago (before 2020 for sure) is what I’m longing for.

        They stick with the idea of showing multiple elements in an around 3 minutes song sounds so crazy but in fact, they’re out of control to cohere them as a whole.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, at the pace they’re going they don’t have a chance to rest and really take the time to focus on their music. And unfortunately they’re making JYP so much money that it only encourages JYP to schedule comebacks more and more quickly. I’m hoping it doesn’t end the same as with Twice, where some of their members had to go on hiatus for a few months, but at the rate they’re going I don’t see it ending well for either the members’ health or artistic output.

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  4. I just really dislike the instrumental in parts of the song. I had a similar feeling about Maniac and that song never grew on me. Expecting the same with this song.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Off topic, but I just want say I love The Boyz’s new song. Idk if you’ll make a review of it since I couldn’t find a review for Runner by Baekhyun even though I thought you did. Anyways, definitely my favorite tbz song since Drink It.

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  5. nearly bust a gut laughing when i first heard that chorus and I love how aggressive it is for a love song. there’s a lot of great moments in the track outside of the chorus (especially at the end) but IMO i find Maniac a much more coherently built and catchy track. some parts of 143 just feel a bit overcooked to me

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Overall didn’t impress anything with the whole song. It’s a cake with too many layers that they don’t fit together perfectly. The song keeps pulling me into a tunnel with no way out. The line “Why do I keep getting attracted” is so obnoxious even though it could stick well like bad words have unpredictable superpowers. When the TikTok challenge came out and I horribly knew that it was the actual chorus, I begged it to grow gracefully like New Jeans’s Attention but it was a real disaster.

    Didn’t get along with all songs of Oddinary but for Maxident I can jam to some songs at least. Wish Super Board would not be so repetitive and burst into a bigger hook, 2/3 of the unit songs are not my cup of tea.

    Have to accept the fact that they would never gift me another Miroh. Since 2020!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Imma need Stray Kids to lose their signature post-God’s Menu sound and ACTUALLY offer us something new. Their music has been super predictable as of late, and that’s really alarming for a group branded as “being different”.

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    • Case 143 and Maniac are extremely sonically different from Gods Menu, Thunderous and Back Door. I think y’all either don’t understand music or are prejudiced. It’s ok to say its not your taste but to say CASE 143 was predictable is simply false. Even the fans weren’t expecting it.

      Liked by 3 people

    • I don’t think it is like God’s Menu and it was definitely not predictable as it was a totally different concept they were trying and everyone was worried that how will it sound even the fans especially after seeing the 2nd teaser.It kinda gives Maniac and Circus vibe, I didn’t like Maniac but Case 143 works for me.

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  8. Well, as a stay I am totally ultimately biased so I can’t blame them for trying to sound new. SKZ were a new group with a cool new sound, now they are an established group that has to always be as good as before. They don’t have to put out a good song, but a song that’s better or at least as good as Miroh or the Go live album. And that quite a feast, so I always expect to be a bit disappointed by skz comebacks.
    I thought I wouldn’t like the song on first listen, but it is stuck in my head now (Thunderous was also an unexpected grower). The whole mini is amazing. The songs are great overall, it’s like they encapsulate a lot of influences while still having a unity because of skz distinctive style. Give me your TMI is the highlight for me since the trailer, but Chill, Taste, and Seugmin and IN’s song were a pleasant surprise. Chill has Han’s signature all over it, and I just love his style. Taste goes somewhere interesting in some places. And Seugmin and In song is like the ultimate homage to indie Jpop (Necrytalkie anyone?) and Day6.
    (On a side note, through Chill lyrics we finally know what conversation went down before Day6 Shoot me…)

    Theme-wise, overall, this is quite a bizarre, patched-up take on love, alternating between violence, excitement and sweetness, and Stray kids still manage to make it work.

    Well, sorry for the overly passionate personal review, I’m just gonna go relisten to the mini and go stan in peace!

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  9. I’m curious about your thoughts on the album. Although I haven’t listened to the album yet, from the teasers I think “Give Me Your TMI” will be your buried treasure because it calls back to their EDM phase a few years ago, which you loved.

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    • Yeah it’s my favourite track from the album too! And it’s written a couple of years ago, which tracks with their output from those eras

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  10. I’m here for this one, actually — at least for now! Didn’t even know they were having a comeback. It’s super goofy and there’s way more English than I’d prefer, but the last Stray Kids song (not just title) I liked was Back Door way back in 2020. The fact that I hit replay on the MV at all is pretty exciting.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. i somewhat like it but not sure how well it will age. however, some of the other songs on the album are very nice like the obviously day6 inspired can’t stop. seungmin my man, knew i could trust him lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think your pet peeve about SKZ is exactly the reason why I like them lol! 🙂 But I haven’t been around in kpop that long to feel jaded by a lot of stuff. I discovered SKZ with God’s menu, so even though I did go back to their old stuff and absolutely love them, the new stuff is also something I do connect with.

    Coming to the song itself – ngl the pinks in the trailer terrified me 💀 I was praying with all my heart that this was not going to be their calling to do a Thrill Ride or Whisper like TBZ. So on that note, since it was still very SKZ and pretty fun I liked it!

    The chorus is pretty catchy and I liked Bang Chan’s and Seungmin’s parts. I’m also low-key digging how after Maniac they not just realized Felix can hit the chorus bit but also that his second chorus counterpart could be Hyunjin! 😂 It’s a way lighter concept than what they had done for a while but it was pretty fun and I’m sure like most SKZ songs it will catch on after I watch them perform it.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. Case 143 belongs to God’s Menu movement and shares the same shapes and shades with Christmas Evel but throws at my face more pains than pleasures.

    Have no idea how the chorus was made. The jazz part that comes right after the first round is rather irrelevant and annoys me which I thought should’ve been a joyful break. The opening of the second verse is outrageous and no longer attractive. The last part seems to be overly redundant and I’m so ambivalent about it (reminds me of Christmas Evel final part constantly). Think they wanted to paint an ambitious vibrant picture with the rhythmic ups and downs brushes but sadly they made the wrong lines as well as put them in the wrong place.

    I would like to put this song into the same category as Dice by the brand-mate NMIXX. They both give me the cheesy-messy vibe, that’s all~

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  14. I honestly really like the production on this and I love how creative they get with it but I don’t know if this will ever fully click with me.
    It’s very quirky and full of personality but it seems a bit all over the place and there isn’t any particular melody that sticks with me.
    It’s at a weird dichotomy for me because it is a lot of fun to listen to due to all the details and intricacies but at the same time it’s pretty hookless and nothing about it makes me want to listen to it again.

    Obviously, I would rather have a strong hook and strong melodies to compliment the song but honestly if I had to choose between bland and safe and this, I’d most likely choose this.

    Time will tell how this song will fair with me but I like this direction, Stray Kids, its good. Now you just need to throw some killer melodies on it and you’ll be great.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. That descending line wears itself out. It starts the song, it weaves behind most of the verse, and then there it is again as the main line in the chorus repeated 8 times over. Enough already.
    The drop into a light latin jazz beat in the 2nd verse was refreshing, briefly.
    The rest of it meets boy group standards.
    “Maniac” will probably rank high on my year end list (ping! ping!) but this one will not.
    Rating is about right.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. The song tries to do way too much at once. Worse yet, the chorus is so fucking repetitive that I feel it’s gonna become grating after the second listen. I can see what Case 143 is trying to do, which is being dumb fun. Alas, it comes across as a series of catchphrases which go nowhere instead. Mid-7’s for me (8,8,7,7).

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  17. One listen will not be enough for me to understand this song – I think I listened to most of it with my head tilted in confusion. I definitely perked up around the 3 minute mark though and wondered why they hadn’t done that for all of the choruses. That bit I really liked. And there were some nice melodic things happening in the pre-chorus. The rest I’m kind of “meh” about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The end is what people would usually expect the chorus of a generic pop song to be, and generic is the antithesis of Stray Kids.

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  18. I just didnt expect what I got I guess 🤣 time to Stockholm myself into loving it. The b sides fair slightly better. Especially chill and taste.

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  19. I liked this very much. It’s a crazy quilt of a journey, but the beat is the same throughout and I like how Felix’s verses kind of hold it together. I’m not a Stay, although I think the group is adorable, but I’ll add it to the three other Stray Kids songs I like, as well as the 8-bit version of Venom which is pretty great.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I have very mixed feelings on this. The concept is cute–a prickly, confused love song, and the MV kind of nailed it, but the verses & chorus sound like Maniac over again. I liked Maniac so I’m not complaining but SKZ are certainly inventive enough to try something different? That said, it’s catchy and punchy and the outro is the kind of awesome switch-up I want them to try out more. The concept is also pretty different for them so that’s nice to see.

    We’ll see how much it grows on me, but for now I’m digging the b-sides a lot more.

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  21. This is my least favorite single of theirs in a while. Like I genuinely enjoy their more combative sound, even though they’ve been in a bit of a holding pattern. This one, too little was going on in the first two and a half minutes or so to really hold my attention. Mid 7s for me, sadly.

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  22. “CAN I BE YOUR BOYFRIEND?!”, and I burst out laughing.

    It’s fun, even if it is kinda disappointing. I guess this is Stray Kids take on a love (crush?) song. It’s just not as catchy as previous tts. With the chorus being their weakest and the verses being mostly unremarkable, Case 143 is just OK.

    I’m gonna give it a 7.5.

    P.S. My sister and mom (both Hyunjin biased) are scarred by that awful haircut. Meanwhile, I’m living my best life as a Lee Know stan lmao

    Liked by 1 person

    • Please, we genuinely can’t talk about that haircut here. My only solace is that for a couple of stages they’ve styled it in a way that saved the whole look. But it is one of the most violent incidents in kpop history for sure.

      Congratulations though, Lino not only looks amazing this era but sounds incredible too– did you hear him on “Taste”? I had no idea he could sing like that! His acting is outstanding too in the MVs, he’s really the whole package.

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      • Yes, Minho was really good in the MV (I also thought he was great in the Maniac MV). Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to listen to the album yet, so I’m just going to have to trust you on “Taste” lol.

        I only recently got into them and rn I’m on the “Go Live” album, so I have a bit more to catch up on. It’s sad, but hopefully I’ll be caught up by the next comeback and I can fully immerse myself in the era.

        P.S. The hair somehow got worse. I just watched the Studio Choom and it’s orange??? I mean, Hyunjin still looks good (how could he not, with that face) but I’m seriously wondering who thought this was a good idea lmao

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, welcome to staydom 🙂 As a Lee Knower you are in for a treat when you finally do watch his Taste fancams… yeah… let’s just say it’s a treat.

          I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to listen to an artist’s whole catalog in order but I guess it’s how you like to do things, which is fine :)… and Go Live/In Life is a really really great era, some of their best work is on that album and its repackage.

          As a Hyunjinner here I’ll say I think he did this on purpose because he’s an eccentric who has sort of a complex about his looks. For example, before his Artist of the Month feature last year, he also had a big dramatic haircut, and he wore a cap that obscured part of his face for some of the video too. He said later that he used the cap because he wanted people to focus on his dancing instead of his looks.

          So I think he Nerfed himself on purpose this time. Well… it wouldn’t have been my choice, but at least it’ll grow out. I’m with you on the color for CHOOM this time being atrocious, too…

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  23. I’ve given it some time, but I think the song is just a little too repetitive to be a favorite for me. I don’t think it’s bad at all, but I prefer almost every other song on the album. Maniac grew on me like Thunderous did, but I don’t think this one will. I also thought the choreo for Maniac was more engaging. For this one, I like the prechorus and Felix’s second-verse rap, but that’s not really enough to make me hit repeat. I will say that I thought Maniac was a stronger title track, but a worse album overall (I detested Lonely St). Whereas 143 itself is weaker, but Maxident as a whole is more polished.

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  24. I think Stray Kids would benefit creatively and mentally from a hiatus. No other artists I can think release full albums so regularly. It’s got to be burning them out.
    At this point they are a money making machine not a creative entity and you can feel it in their music.
    Sweet kids but they lost me as a fan in early 2020.

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  25. Stray Kids desperately need creative input that doesnt come from within the group, their title tracks this year have been an odd mishmash of trying to force Felix to make his voice as deep as possible to get a Tiktok sound bite and the quality has diminished accordingly. Until they learn how to properly incorporate his sometimes good sometimes extremely obnoxious vocal tone they need to stick with giving him bit parts and small sentences like they used to do before Gods Menu. His chorus and bridge on Case 143 are atrocious.

    This song just has too many cooks in the kitchen, there are 8 members in the group and they’re going to make sure everybody gets the same amount of parts at the expense of the actual song. Chan’s odd mumbling in the second verse is a great example of that, he doesn’t need a vocal moment there that doesn’t fit the song and he doesnt pull it off at all but they keep it in to make sure he gets his moment. There are many parts of this song I don’t think would have been approved for release if the main producers of the song weren’t also the group members themselves.

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