Stray Kids were recently announced to be the first 4th generation K-Pop group to grace the cover of the US version of Billboard and be interviewed by the outlet for their cover story. Billboard even announced that STAYs would have the opportunity to own an exclusive version of their magazine cover that contained even more exclusive photos and interview content. However, once the group’s cover story was shared on the Billboard site, many fans had issues with the content in the article.
Through the interview, Stray Kids and officials from JYPE Entertainment and Republic Records answer questions about the group’s rise to success, and it included some additional content that STAYs have found unnecessary and disrespectful. To start, there is an unneeded excerpt referencing Hyunjin‘s bullying scandal and apology that led to him taking a several-month-long hiatus from the group in 2021.
Hyunjin — who was involved in a controversy related to bullying allegations and took a four-month hiatus from the group following a formal apology in early 2021 — adds that “his [Park Jin Young] comments were really helpful about stage manner and our future.
Fans say this content was completely irrelevant to what was being discussed and not needed. Billboard also referred to the group’s sold-out crowd during their Maniac world tour date at Prudential Center in New Jersey as “teens and tweens,” a common and offensive misconception about K-Pop fans.
This article is supposed to be about the achievements and success Stray Kids has achieved over the past year. The mention of DISPROVEN allegations against one of the members is highly irresponsible and sickening. Do better as a journalist.
— Hyunjin 현진 Central (@HHJCentral) September 8, 2022
The most annoying part of the Billboard article for me is the insistence that Stray Kids' audience are teens and tweens. I am a whole adult who listens to all kinds of music including Stray Kids & as far as I know, music has no age restriction.
— Stay (@OfficialStay325) September 8, 2022
Fans also say that some of the included information about BTS and their recent focus on individual activities was dismissive towards Stray Kids and all of their accomplishments as it implied that Stray Kids could become more popular now that BTS are not as actively promoting as previously. This idea is offensive to fans of both groups and also “implies that K-Pop groups are replaceable and interchangeable.”
BTS, the group responsible for nearly one-third of all K-pop sales and streams in the United States over the past 18 months, recently pressed pause on group activities — the outfit had gone nonstop for a few years, and required military service loomed for some members — creating something of a void (at least temporarily) at the top of the genre.
The article also contradicts that statement later in the story by directly saying that Stray Kids and BTS produce very different music in another comparison that fans say was not needed for the cover story.
Yet one listen to Oddinary would demonstrate to casual fans that Stray Kids sound nothing like BTS, which broke boundaries for Korean artists in North America by crossing over with disco-inflected pop smashes like “Dynamite” and “Butter” before announcing a temporary group break in June. Stray Kids, on the other hand, approach pop by way of rap, rock and electronica, exploring trap, G-funk, punk and even a little industrial. Those expecting standard boy-band fare would be surprised to hear “Lonely St.” sounding Warped Tour-ready or that “Muddy Water” is closer to Odd Future than *NSYNC.
Fans have begun requesting that the article be changed and rewritten to truly reflect Stray Kids’ accomplishments. Many have even canceled their orders for the zine edition of the magazine.
very proud of stray kids for being on billboard due to all their hard work, but i can’t help but say it’s very disappointing how the article for it was written especially regarding its content.
— ⤮ (@goIfIefleur) September 8, 2022
— 80085 (@binnierabbit) September 8, 2022
bringing up shit from years ago that’s irrelevant to oddinarys success, comparing them to other groups and calling all stays basically children, rewrite that ass article you allowed to be published, disrespectful to stray kids and stays @billboard
— pixi ⤮ (@SEUNGlNNIE) September 8, 2022
Billboard have since updated the passage about Hyunjin. It now reads “Hyunjin — who took a brief hiatus from the group in 2021, after sharing his “deepest apologies” for inconsiderate behavior in his youth — adds that “his comments were really helpful about stage manner, our future.”