Stray Kids had an excellent 2021 by my watch, though their results since then have been decidedly more polarizing. If nothing else, “S-Class” will do nothing to change that, as the ambitious single that’s like the already at times experimental pop group stumbled into JYP Entertainment‘s discarded “MIXX Pop” stash and we all got this as a result.
I bristle at simplistic descriptions of Stray Kids’ music as “noise”, mainly because that’s not usually what’s happening with their releases at all (also it’s only even close to that specifically within pop). There’s definitely aggressiveness and loudness in “S-Class”, but there’s also production that sounds straight out of “Gin And Juice“, and a pre-chorus that could be out of any number of high-teen concepts. The problem is mainly that the chorus they keep coming back to isn’t especially noteworthy, melodic, or hook-y, and since it sorta blends in with the sound of the initial rap verse it gets confusing the first time through (unlike say MATILDA‘s “You Bad Don’t Make Me Cry“, where the chorus is always there as a guidepost).
Tracks like this are high-risk, high-reward by nature. It’s what helps songs like this stand out from the crowd, but the risk that things never quite come together as intended is ever-present, and “S-Class” doesn’t find the right notes.