Jung Kook’s Golden: BTS star crowned ‘pop king’ by critics thanks to solo album

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Two singles from Jung Kook’s album have already gone into the UK top 10
By Helen Bushby
Entertainment and arts reporter

BTS star Jung Kook’s first solo album has been met with praise by critics, with one calling him “a new pop king” and another calling it “pop bliss”.

The South Korean singer, 26, is performing alone while some of the older band members do military service.

His album Golden is sung in English and includes collaborations with Ed Sheeran, Latto and Shawn Mendes.

USA Today’s Jennifer McClellan showered praise on Golden, saying he’s “punched his ticket to pop superstardom”.

She wrote: “Sure, as a member of BTS he had already reached pinnacles of fame most could only imagine. Yet he was one of seven in a group that, however talented, ruled within the realm of K-pop.

“That changes today.”

As the youngest member of BTS, Jung Kook has been a star since the age of 15

NME’s Rhian Daly declared that Golden “more than secures him the throne” as this decade’s pop king.

“So far, the 2020s have been lacking one huge male solo star that reigns over the pop world but, with Golden, BTS’s Jungkook proves he’s more than up to the task,” she said.

“For the most part, Golden works and achieves exactly what its mission seemingly is – capture Jungkook’s multifaceted artistry, charismatic vocals and irresistible pop appeal in 10 easily palatable songs primed for commercial success.”

‘Part Ronan Keating, part Craig David’

The Associated Press’s Maria Sherman also praised the album, saying: “The heavily Anglophonic Golden, a reference to his nickname of ‘the golden maknae,’ (golden youngest in Korean), is one of the strongest pop debuts of the year, a direct reflection of his love of retro-pop sounds…

“Across this release, Jung Kook demonstrates a deep understanding of pop performance – and how, in the modern era, that requires innovative collaborations, heavily featured throughout his solo album,” she added.

The i newspaper’s Ed Power said the “BTS heartthrob is part Ronan Keating, part Craig David – and it’s a triumph”.

BTS are the most successful group to emerge from South Korea

“The biggest surprise is mega-hit Seven,” Power continued.

“It has smashed records by overtaking Miley Cyrus’s Flowers to become the fastest release in history to clock up one billion Spotify plays. Popularity aside, its most striking quality, however, is the extent to which it worships at the altar of Craig David’s 7 Days.

“‘Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday,’ sings Jungkook in his light, expressive voice.

“Then, when you think he’s going to croon, ‘we chill on Sunday’, he swerves into a chorus so rude, sensitive listeners will require a lie-down.”

The Standard’s David Smyth commented that “as the baby of the group, vastly famous since the age of 15, he’s in a great position for further success.” Justin Timberlake, Harry Styles and Robbie Williams were also the youngest members of their boy bands, he noted.

There are “a lot of boxes are ticked for pop lovers”, he added. “What elevates it is his fluid, expressive voice, which consistently raises chart-friendly material to a higher plane.”


The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis was more lukewarm, saying Jung Kook “follows a well-worn path from boyband member to solo star, plunging into competent pop-R&B”.

“It’s well-made, hooky – but nevertheless, Golden is an album bound to leave more agnostic listeners pondering what the fuss is about. If you detach the music from the pop world that spawned it… it just sounds like decent mainstream pop,” he wrote.

BTS have become a global sensation since their debut 10 years ago, and are credited with helping to boost the profile of Korean culture worldwide.

They were the first Korean act to score a chart-topping album in the UK, and were previously named the world’s best-selling artists, beating the likes of Taylor Swift and Adele.

Their management have said BTS members expect to reform “around 2025” after fulfilling their military service duties.

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