BTS member Jungkook has had an extended rollout period for his album GOLDEN, including singles “Seven” and “3D”, both of which have been successful (though by far I prefer the former). However, perhaps it’s his latest in “Standing Next To You” that’s his best and cements his place in the pop scene.
One of the things Jungkook has done well so far was basically recreate turn of the millennium eras like Craig David and Justin Timberlake, but “Standing Next To You” digs deeper into the bag towards a bigger legend in Michael Jackson. From the mannerisms to choreo to some vocal ad-libs, the blueprint is obvious, and it’s a surprisingly quality turn for a bar that’s set so high.
“Standing Next To You” hits you with explosive energy immediately thanks to the brass and drum hits, segueing right into the disco-y, silky smooth and confidently-delivered verses. The pre-chorus is also a highlight, standing out for having a similar rhythm and sound to “Regulate“/”I Keep Forgettin“, and the chorus that follows is a bit unique in that the refrain isn’t repetitive in an attempt to embed a line into your head. Instead, there’s a progressive growth combined with attention-grabbing stabs of brass and drum fills. From the sung “standing next to you, standing in the fire next to you” to the rapid-fire lines that follow that are punctuated by “take take take take take off“, it all works. It reminds me of what K-pop did best in previous generations as well, which is actually trying to be a big impactful pop single, and this mostly delivers. Hell, even the post-chorus instrumental sections that I normally complain about are utilized well here, with “standing next to you” being repeated over the funky instrumental, and at one point it diverts into a killer brass solo as well.
One of the criticisms I’ve seen in the rollout of Jungkook’s GOLDEN is that he’s relying on featurings to get his name out there in America, to which I argued was just a pragmatic marketing strategy. He’s selling to the general American public after all, not trying to back up any fandom delusions about K-pop’s mainstream reach in this country. Well it certainly doesn’t apply here, as Jungkook undoubtedly carries this entire song, showcasing all of his charisma while expertly using his assured falsetto throughout the track.
Despite being retro and despite other artists always attempting to do songs like this as well, “Standing Next To You” feels oddly fresh in 2023. While Jungkook’s style of music was always going to be in my wheelhouse, I remain pleasantly surprised at just how well he delivered and how effectively he was able to springboard from BTS into his solo career. These types of singles, in combination with the visuals, the showmanship, and the polish to this entire endeavor, is undoubtedly simply superstar shit.