After much anticipation, global pop icon Jungkook has released his debut solo album, GOLDEN — and it is nothing short of luminous. The youngest member of BTS released the all-English LP on November 3, following the success of his previous singles “Seven (feat. Latto)” and “3D (feat. Jack Harlow).” The early ‘00s boyband-inspired R&B hit, “3D,” debuted at No.1 on Billboard’s Global 200 and Global Excl. U.S. charts. Meanwhile, the UK garage-influenced earworm “Seven” made history on October 30 as the quickest song to reach 1 billion streams on Spotify. 

With quite an impressive track record already, the multi-faceted artist has quite the challenge ahead of him. But Jungkook shines on GOLDEN with eight new tracks exploring themes of love and heartbreak — alongside hits “3D” and the clean and explicit versions of “Seven.” GOLDEN is a record that reminds listeners why the pop genre is so widely beloved.

Deep Like DNA

The retro funk tune “Standing Next to You” serves as the title track for GOLDEN. With a groovy rhythm and the smooth tone of Jungkook’s vocals, this single will have you swaying along in no time. Backed by vibrant percussion and rich wind instruments, Jungkook sings about his unwavering devotion and love for someone special. He promises, “We’ll survive the test of time / They can’t deny our love / They can’t divide us,” willing to endure any challenge their love may face. 

The track is coupled with a visually striking music video where Jungkook showcases sultry dance moves reminiscent of those of Michael Jackson. The video aptly features warm lighting that resembles a sunset’s golden hues — fitting for the album’s title. Jungkook sports striking black angel wings, similar to those he wore in BTS’ “Black Swan” music video. He also gives a nod to the group’s song “DNA” with the iconic two-finger tap move while singing the lines, “It’s deeper than the pain / When it’s deep like DNA / Something they can’t take away.” It is evident that Jungkook’s love for his significant other, fellow group members, and ARMY — BTS’ dedicated fans — runs deep and transcends “the test of time.” 

A Love So Golden

The romantic and passionate tone of GOLDEN begins to seep in with B-sides “Closer to You” featuring Major Lazer, “Yes or No,” and “Please Don’t Change” featuring DJ Snake. “Closer to You” teeters between romantic and sensual with its heartfelt lyrics battling the reggaeton beat head-on. While the track sounds like the latest hit you would hear at the club, Jungkook counters it by deeply singing, “Love me at my lowest / I’ll love you when you’re barely holdin’ on.”

Meanwhile, “Yes or No” is a guitar-driven pop song reminiscent of the early 2010s — shoutout to Ed Sheeran being credited as a songwriter on this track. Capturing the nervousness that accompanies admitting your feelings for someone, “Yes or No” features a catchy chorus that mimics the game of cat-and-mouse between lovers. Begging for an honest answer about where they stand, Jungkook questions, “Something about you, do you feel the way I do? / There’s magic in the room, tell me, do you feel it too?”

“Please Don’t Change” kicks off with a gentle electronic melody. The tone of the song is uplifting as Jungkook begs his lover to remain the same. He sweetly confesses, “Oh, I love you, yeah, I love you / Please, please don’t change.” Rooted in admiration, “Please Don’t Change” shares a wholesome message about an accepting love that will leave your heart feeling warm.

Photo courtesy of BIGHIT MUSIC

Golden Tears

Jungkook undergoes a stark emotional shift from his passionate expressions of love to heart-wrenching breakup anthems in the second half of GOLDEN. The piano pop ballad “Hate You” captures the pain that still lingers from a past breakup. Resorting to self-deception by laying the blame for everything on his ex-lover, he vows, “I’m gonna hate you / Paint you likе the villain that you never wеre / I’m gonna blame you / For things that you don’t do.” But Jungkook reflects upon the imperfect nature of their relationship in the melancholic, slow-tempo composition. Ultimately, still in love with his ex, he confesses, “It’s not the truth / It’s not the cure / But hating you’s the only way it doesn’t hurt.”

Somebody” is a livelier take on a breakup tune, with its poppy acoustic guitar and keyboard melody. This rhythmic B-side captures the accepted fate of a couple that has split for good. Jungkook sings, “Came to terms, things have changed / My heart can sense it, I don’t need you to explain.” But the track’s chorus tells a message of setting boundaries that stop one from getting back with an ex. Rather than rushing to his ex-partner’s side, Jungkook leaves them with the harsh reality that he won’t be the “somebody” they can run to anymore.

GOLDEN transitions into a more somber tone with the R&B track “Too Sad to Dance.” Over the mournful melody, Jungkook reflects on a lost love that he knows is beyond recovery. He sings, “A broken heart and nobody / And that’s why I’m too sad to dance / And now I just wait by the telephone / You ain’t coming back and I should’ve known.” In contrast to the previous two tracks, “Too Sad to Dance” focuses on the weight of the pain his split from his lover has caused him.

In the tear-jerking ballad “Shot Glass of Tears,” Jungkook conveys his doubts about whether he’ll ever be able to recover from the heartbreak. The singer reaches a vulnerable state where he yearns for a remedy for his heartache. Wearing his heart on his sleeve, he confesses, “It’s a hard pill to swallow / This emotion, I bottle / Need somethin’ strong for the sorrow / Somethin’ strong for the pain / So, I can wash it away.” 

Staying Golden

From emotional breakups to the rush of falling in love, Jungkook dives into it all on GOLDEN. Exploring a variety of sonic influences while adding his own personal touch to each track, he showcases his versatility and expertise as an artist. GOLDEN is a testament to Jungkook’s abilities and the bright future that awaits him as a soloist.

In celebration of the release of GOLDEN, Jungkook has a busy schedule that fans can look forward to. He is scheduled to appear on TODAY on November 8 and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on November 13. There will also be an exciting fan showcase, “GOLDEN Live on Stage,” in Seoul on November 20. As a surprise for his beloved ARMY, Jungkook will be hosting a special event on November 9. 

To stay up to date with the global pop star, fans can follow Jungkook on Instagram, TikTok, X, and Weverse. GOLDEN is now available for streaming worldwide.

Want the latest updates on BTS’ solo musical endeavors? Check out our breakdown of V’s solo debut album here