Stray Kids have returned again with another eye-catching and loudly CGI-laden MV complete with a hanok village and weird, floating divine fire. The English title “Thunderous” or “Sorikkun” in Korean holds multiple meanings: a singer, or a noisy and nagging person. The members lean into this metaphor crafting raucous imagery and fierce choreography with equally in-your-face music to accompany it.
In the intro film, the members talk about their intentions creating the album and its contents as well as introduce the theme as “thunderous” itself. They claim it to be perfect for the “go your own way” attitude that the group often wears as a badge of honor, and that being seen as loud, energetic kids paving their own way in the industry is something they welcome.
Known for writing and producing almost every track that they release, “Thunderous” is a deliberate exploration of the more chaotic side of Stray Kids, one that comes across as both powerful and empowering.
Teased in July, the concept and story associated with the MV connect to their previous trailer in which they introduce the beginning of the NOEASY era. The members are seen fighting against an elusive sound monster that gains power “by devouring all the world’s nagging sounds.”
In “Thunderous”, the members claim to be unapologetic for their ego and prestige, essentially inviting the sound monsters to challenge them. Not only do the members flaunt their rapping and singing, but they encourage others to join in the noisemaking and dance unafraid of the dangers that could be on the horizon, literally and figuratively.
Taking place mostly in a hanok village and near a temple, flashes of modernity like shiny red sports cars and stereo equipment are placed opposite guards with spears and citizens in hanbok.
These juxtaposing elements evoke imagery of reclaiming sacred spaces during an apocalyptic event and flaunting confidence despite the possible consequences. While the MV itself does not necessarily tease these apocalyptic elements directly, when paired with its trailer, it feels like the first chapter of a much larger story and is likely the first installment of a much longer album series and conceptual era for the group.
Like all the title track releases since “God’s Menu,” “Thunderous” utilizes an engaging mix of high-speed camera equipment, amazingly sophisticated CGI, and a mix of both modern and traditional elements. The settings and outfits pan so rapidly that it can be a bit overwhelming at first, but feels perfect for the kind of fast-paced and rowdy title tracks the members have come to be known for.
What does seem to be unclear is that the members also appear to possess some level of divine or otherworldly power that can be used to fight the sound monsters both through shooting specialized weapons or by conjuring blue flames from their hands, lightning, and thunder.
It could just be a convenient play on words that the members have thunder god-like powers to accompany their thunderous personalities, but perhaps they could also be descended from Emperor Dangun, the first founding emperor of Korea or his heavenly Sky God father Hwanung. Or perhaps they were the only ones that managed to survive the initial onslaught from the sound monsters to begin with. It still seems to early in the saga to tell definitively.
Central to the whole MV is obviously the music itself, and on this front Stray Kids certainly deliver. There are sassy lyrics, an engaging variety of sections and sonic layers, as well as their signature catchy, onomatopoetic flourishes. The introduction to the song begins with cinematic brasses and loud drum samples before giving way to Changbin and Han rapping. The pre-chorus that follows is smoother and colder with the lyrics “villains make my blood boil” and Seungmin, I.N, and Bangchan’s mid-range vocals, while the drop sets up an explosive chorus. The verses drop back down in intensity with Hyunjin and Lee Know’s almost monotone rapping but quickly becoming thicker and stronger as more members take center.
It seems Felix remains the bridge king (like in “God’s Menu”), finally getting more than a few lines with the repetition of “The Thunderous ones have arrived” in his iconic low tone. Unlike the other verses, the last verse starts at full throttle and never letting up until the end. The song also has a rowdy post-chorus with Changbin on the backs of the other members among lively festivities with dancing, sangmo, and white lion dancers.
By combining such confident lyrics, evocative story building, and high budget design, “Thunderous” keeps the viewer engaged from start to end and makes for a remarkable Stray Kids release. The members have been quickly maturing as artists and have proven themselves to be remarkably witty and capable songwriters, and it really shows through in both this MV and its accompanying album.
While there are some elements of the story that do seem rather vague as of now, it sets up the option for the members to begin crafting an incredible story with a wealth of musical and thematic possibilities going forward. It may be hard to get noisier from here, but I for one will be looking forward to how Stray Kids can possibly go up from here… and also keeping all of NOEASY in my rotation for the foreseeable future.