If you told me a decade ago that a member of the world’s biggest K-pop band would release a track written by Coldplay, I would’ve been shocked. But, global outreach and a popularity boom has resulted in collaborations like this becoming much more common. And with Jin, this team-up makes sense. His solo tracks on BTS albums often have a soft rock sheen — particularly 2020’s Moon. He has the vocal tone and expressive style to compliment this genre. The Astronaut marks his final release before enlistment — a bittersweet time for fans of any group.
But, The Astronaut feels bittersweet in a different way. It makes me wish HYBE had leveraged BTS’s success to deliver more solo singles and albums. YG were masterful at this when managing Bigbang, and it made the group dynamic more powerful and interesting. It’s a shame that Jin gets one song to showcase his individual talent before taking a lengthy hiatus. I mean, The Astronaut isn’t the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s a Coldplay track sung by Jin. It does what it says on the tin. But, it hints at a robust side career that could have been… and hopefully will be in years to come. I can’t help but wonder what we missed out on.
Make no mistake about it: The Astronaut is very, very pretty. Its soft, lilting sound is right up my alley. Even if it never builds to the cathartic climax I hope for in a song of this style, its steady journey is satisfying on its own. Jin’s lower register is warm and inviting and never too showy. Instead, The Astronaut has a rustic quality that flies in the face of its synth-heavy production. It’s a nice blend of elements, made for open-road driving and gazing at the stars.
It’s also pleasant to hear a K-pop song take its time. The Astronaut stretches close to five minutes and its emotional through-line never wavers. It could’ve done with a counter melody to add more structural diversity because you do have to earn those five minutes. Repetition is one of the song’s strengths, but this approach sacrifices an element of surprise. The Astronaut occasionally feels like it’s spinning its wheels. But I’ll repeat: those wheels are damn pretty. As both a send-off and a look toward the future, it’s a welcome addition to the group’s ever-expanding suite of pop genres.