I wish every release received the promotional blitz JYP Entertainment affords Stray Kids. Though it’s only been out for a few weeks, we’re already on the third official music video from their NOEASY album. Neither Thunderous nor The View did much for me, so to call Cheese my favorite single yet isn’t exactly high praise. But, it’s still the most exciting and fresh of the three, hinting at the creative potential that underlines the group’s strongest work.
I’m one of those weirdos who doesn’t like cheese. I eat cheeseless pizzas and cheeseless sandwiches, and bristle at the thought of snacking on anything covered in fluorescent orange powder. I know. It’s strange. And, the fact that this aversion colors my experience of this song is even stranger. But despite the grating (ha!) “cheese” exclamations sprinkled throughout the track, I can get down with this driving, industrial beat. I’m ready to clap and stomp with that squealing guitar. Despite myself, I’m even shouting along with a few of the obvious rhymes.
(But, I still won’t eat the cheese.)
This isn’t a soft, ingratiating pop song. It stakes its claim on brashness. It’s intentionally prickly. And, I think that may also describe Stray Kids’ overall appeal. There are times when Cheese is messy, but those moments feed on the group’s personality. Deep-voiced Felix steals the show, yet every member throws his hat into the ring, game for the song’s silly vibe. It’s almost too clever for its own good (a criticism I have with a lot of Stray Kids’ music), but the galvanizing production brings everything together to make this an off-kilter standout.