Stray Kids' latest is a tribute to wildlife lost in the Australian Bushfires

by Emma Peters

On June 2, 2023, Stray Kids released their third full-length album 5-STAR. Stray Kids have ushered in an entirely new genre, pioneering the “mala-taste” sound that has come to be recognised and celebrated in the K-pop industry. But 5-STAR not only highlights the group's iconic “noise music”, but also their incredible ability to craft softer and lighter pop songs, with tracks such as FNF. The release, which amassed 5.13 million pre-release sales and broke the record for the highest presale of any K-pop album, showcases the group’s songwriting and production prowess that has led to their rise to the top of the industry and solidified their status as legendary self-produced idols.

Photo via JYP

In an album dominated by heavy tracks that boast the group’s rising success and achievements, such as Hall of Fame, TOPLINE (feat. Tiger JK) and title track S-Class, FNF offers almost a sense of relief from more intense trap and hip-hop beats. An upbeat and energetic EDM track, FNF feels refreshing and somewhat lighter than its predecessors.

However, to think FNF is simply a light-hearted dance track would be undermining its value as all it takes is a skim of the lyrics to realise the song is far deeper than its danceable rhythm would suggest. Particularly for us in Australia, FNF hits hard in its exploration of a topic that is emotional and possibly quite difficult for some.

FNF, which stands for Flora and Fauna, is dedicated to “all nature and wildlife lost from the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires”, and was written and composed by Australian members Bang Chan and Felix. The song also features alongside a video clip filmed entirely in Australia during Stray Kids’ recent world tour, showcasing the country’s breathtaking natural scenery and beaches. It is a track that began production back in 2019, and has finally been completed for release on 5-STAR.

FNF MV, filmed in Melbourne, Australia.

The death and destruction caused during the 2019-2020 bushfire season was devastating, resulting in almost 500 deaths and 10,000 buildings being destroyed. What’s more was the immense impact the bushfires had on Australia’s wildlife, with WWF estimating that almost 3 billion animals were killed or displaced during this period.

It is somewhat surreal to hear such a topic discussed in K-pop, which in a sense feels disconnected from the specific issues and concerns faced in Australia. However, with members Bang Chan and Felix both growing up in Sydney, it is interesting to consider how the devastation of the 2019-2020 bushfires has impacted spheres beyond the borders of the country.

“I spent half my life in that country,” Bang Chan says in the first episode of Stray Kids’ INTRO “5-STAR” series. “The song’s about missing the nature that represents Australia”.

Bang Chan and Felix in Sydney, pre-debut.

But, as many of their songs do, FNF has a double meaning that showcases the group’s lyrical and linguistic capabilities. Laced with metaphor, the lyrics describe the feeling of missing a person who has left you, as a means of representing the sense of loss Bang Chan and Felix, and many others, have for the wildlife of Australia. For an audience who cannot necessarily relate to the issue of the bushfires, the personification of Australia’s wildlife as a loved one who is gone makes the song all the more relatable, and heart-wrenching.

“I wish I was there by your side…I really want you back,” read the lyrics, calling out to a lost loved one. In this way, Australia’s nature and wildlife have themselves become like a friend or family member who we are desperate to get back to, even if it is impossible.

The members’ explanation of the lyrics makes even more evident their emotion and connection to the song. “Everyone will leave one day…this might be a bit too deep,” Bang Chan comments, “but the words ‘catching up’ have that meaning: ‘I’ll catch up to you soon’.”

For a group like Stray Kids, it is not unusual for songs to address topics and concerns that may be emotional or close to listeners’ hearts. Yet hearing a song dedicated to Australia’s flora and fauna, and in such a beautiful and complex way, truly makes us reflect on what has been lost, and the inconceivable devastation that resulted from the 2019-2020 bushfires, no matter how much time has passed.

Emma Peters is a second-year student at UNSW, currently completing a Bachelor of Media, majoring in Journalism. She is extremely passionate about all things related to pop culture and music, especially K-pop. You can most likely find her singing her heart out at a concert, or otherwise crying her eyes out while looking through concert videos.  

Blitz Editor

Anandi Ganguly

A Definitive Ranking of the Beloved Papa Louie Games

Alexa ranks our the childhood cult classic, Papa's Pizzeria games. Where does your favourite lie in the ranks?

Read More

Harry Styles Love on Tour Review / 04.03.23

Lana dotes on her experience at Harry's Love on Tour in Sydney, at Qudos Bank Arena.

Read More

Why Do We Play Life Simulation Games Over Life?

Prudence dives deep into the temptation to play life simulator games over life.

Read More

Read More