Photo Courtesy of Belift Lab
Meet ENHYPEN, K-Pop's Latest Breakout Boy Group
The emerging global act tells GRAMMY.com about their debut mini-album, 'BORDER : DAY ONE,' and their plans to take over the worldwide K-pop industry
One of the most exciting K-pop debuts in recent years came at the end of 2020: ENHYPEN. The seven members of the group were selected by fans worldwide after they competed on Mnet's "I-LAND," a South Korean survival reality show. Featuring members who were former trainees under Big Hit Entertainment, the masterminds behind BTS and TOMORROW X TOGETHER, and from various backgrounds, ENHYPEN are now spreading the K-pop agenda worldwide.
After wrapping up "I-LAND'' in September, the septet immediately began preparing their highly anticipated debut: BORDER : DAY ONE, released last November on Belift Lab, a joint venture between Big Hit and South Korean entertainment company CJ ENM. (Belift Lab are the creators of "I-LAND.")
On BORDER : DAY ONE, ENHYPEN explore a wide range of genres while grappling with their new status as an emerging global act. The album's lead single, "Given-Taken," is a high-energy pop song showcasing the guys' youthful vocals and doubling as a dark power anthem; the song's lyrics tackle the complex question of whether they have earned their coveted spots in the group, or taken them.
Elsewhere, "Intro: Walk The Line" takes on alternative hip-hop, "Let Me In (20 CUBE)," produced by Big Hit's FRANTS and "Hitman" Bang, mixes reggae with hip-hop, and closer "Outro: Cross The Line" wraps up the album in an eerie, waltz style.
Since debuting in November, ENHYPEN have taken the international K-pop world by storm. Their debut mini-album broke the record for highest first-week sales in Korea among rookies who debuted in 2020, and they won the Next Leader award, aka rookie of the year, at the Fact Music Awards within 12 days of their debut. Their exploding social media presence also reflects their ability to connect with global fans: They currently have more than 1 million followers on Twitter and more than 3 million followers on TikTok.
Beyond the numbers game, the guys come from diverse backgrounds that align with their goals for world domination: Sunghoon, who gave up a successful career as a competitive figure skater to become an "idol," Sunoo, Heeseung and Jungwon are Korean; Jay is from the U.S.; Jake is Australian; and Ni-ki, the group's youngest member, is Japanese.
Surrounded by some of the best minds in the industry, ENHYPEN have a promising future ahead of them. With young members who are eager to learn and grow, the group is ready for the burgeoning worldwide success that's on their horizon. Despite debuting in a pandemic, which has caused them to rely on the power of social media to connect with ENGENES, their so-called fan base, all eyes are now on ENHYPEN.
GRAMMY.com checked in with ENHYPEN to talk about their debut mini-album, BORDER : DAY ONE, and their plans to take over the worldwide K-pop industry.
First off, you're making your debut not long after ending "I-LAND." What has the process been like preparing for your debut? Has it been difficult or more demanding than training on the show?
Jake: We did our best to prepare, wanting to meet our fans as soon as possible. We helped each other out and received help from our staff as well, so the preparation process was pretty smooth.
There are huge expectations for your group, with many considering you guys the most anticipated rookie debut. How does it feel to have so much support already? How do you deal with the pressure, if any?
ENHYPEN: We are thankful for all this support, and it motivates us to do even better. We try to take all this as a good energy that fuels us to work hard to show our fans the best version of ENHYPEN.
A lot of new acts debut in the K-pop industry every year. What do you hope to bring that is new and different from other artists? In your opinion, what makes ENHYPEN special?
ENHYPEN: ENHYPEN's forte is music that is rooted in our own stories and performance and the chemistry between the seven of us … Our teamwork has been getting better and better as we've been together throughout "I-LAND" as well as the process that led to [our] debut.
Out of the six tracks on your debut EP, do you each have a song that resonates with you most or that you're most excited to perform?
Jungwon: "Given-Taken" resonated the most because the lyrics reflect our current situation. I'm most excited to perform "Given-Taken" and "10 Months." The latter is a very sweet song. The performance and gestures are more relaxed, and I just really like the song.
Heeseung: I can't wait to show "10 Months" because it puts a spotlight on ENHYPEN's vocals, dance and charms all at once. The song especially highlights the vocals, so we want to perform it really well.
Jay: It's "Given-Taken." The lyrics encapsulate the complex emotions that I'm feeling right now, and I want to deliver a genuine performance.
Jake: "Let Me In (20 CUBE)." This song shows a more groovy side to ourselves, and a performance with all of us in perfect synchronization.
Sunghoon: It's "Given-Taken" for me. I relate to this song the most because it talks about the complicated emotions of seven boys who have finally achieved their dream of [debuting] and are at the borderline of a new beginning. The performance radiates a dark and powerful energy.
Sunoo: I like "Let Me In (20 CUBE)" because of its catchiness, but "10 Months" resonated with me the most, because the lyrics [say] that despite looks of a grown-up, we have a lot more room to grow emotionally and mentally mirror ourselves. Also, the cute performance allows us to show fans various facets of ENHYPEN.
Ni-ki: For me, it's "Let Me In (20 CUBE)." I personally like up-tempo melodies, and I also think this song underscores ENHYPEN's charms really well.
The lead single, "Given-Taken," addresses the complex emotions you face as you're starting a new beginning, which is fitting for your journey and relatable for a diverse audience. What about your group do you hope resonates most with audiences?
ENHYPEN: "Given-Taken" is a song that we can do at this moment as it captures our current situation. We're really at the beginning right now, so we hope that these complex emotions one has at the verge of a new start resonates with many people.
You've been working with Big Hit's well-known producers on your EP. Is there anything you have learned about producing or songwriting through the process? How do you hope to make your music your own?
Heeseung: The process of making this album taught me how to polish my rhythm and groove into a final output and about the importance of a good delivery. I will take all this into account for the recording that will come hereafter and make good music.
Jungwon, as the leader of ENHYPEN, what do you think makes you a good frontman? How would you describe your group's chemistry?
Jungwon: I think the most important thing is communication, so I try to listen to our members' opinions as much as possible. ENHYPEN's chemistry is really solid!
It must be tough to debut during a pandemic, where you can't perform in front of fans in person. Despite that, you're part of the "digital native" generation that regularly utilizes social media. How do you hope to grow the fan-artist bond you have created for the time being? Is there anything you're looking forward to doing for your fans in person when time allows?
Sunoo: We connected with our fans via socials and livestreams. To keep this connection strong, we want to show them various aspects of ENHYPEN [that] we haven't revealed yet!
You're obviously very busy, but outside of your recent debut, what have you guys been doing to pass the time? What are your hobbies outside of music and performing?
Ni-ki: We usually watch choreography videos during breaktime or at our dorm because those videos point out what we lack. I personally like soccer clips and movies. We don't have much downtime these days, but I want to go [watch] movies and soccer games with our members soon.
This is a really exciting time for all of you, and you're getting ready to build your own legacy after various years of training. What are you most excited about for the near future, and what career or debut goals do each of you have? What are some of your biggest dreams?
Jay: My career goal is to become a versatile artist not limited to a certain specialty. And throughout all that process, to be close to our fans. As for now, I wish we could perform on the global stage with the costumes I created or took part in designing.
Lastly, for those unfamiliar with your stint on "I-LAND," what is the most important thing people should know about ENHYPEN going forward?
Sunghoon: ENHYPEN grows together by connecting one another. Our group's goal is to connect worlds and people through our music.
Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More
The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'
In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.
"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.
Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.
"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."
Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American.
"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."
Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19/Getty Images
Taylor Swift Plots 2020 World Tour With U.S. Dates For Lover Fest East & West
Following dates in Europe and South America, Swift will land in the U.S. for Lover Fest East and West, where the pop star will open Los Angeles' brand new stadium
Taylor Swift will be spreading the love in support of her hit album Lover.in 2020, but it may or may not be in a city near you. The GRAMMY winner announced plans for her summer 2020 tour in support of her seventh studio album, including two shows each in Foxborough, Mass. and Los Angeles for Lover Fest East and West respectively as the only four U.S. dates announced so far.
The Lover album is open fields, sunsets, + SUMMER. I want to perform it in a way that feels authentic. I want to go to some places I haven’t been and play festivals. Where we didn’t have festivals, we made some. Introducing, Lover Fest East + West! https://t.co/xw6YMN38WE pic.twitter.com/IhVPQ8DMUG— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) September 17, 2019
The tour kicks off in Belgium on June 20 and hits festivals in seven European countries before heading to Sao Paulo, Brazil on July 18 then heading to U.S. Swift will then present Lover Fest West with back-to-back Los Angeles July 25 and 26 at the newly named SoFi Stadium. The concerts will serve as the grand opening of the much-anticipated NFL venue. The tour will wrap a double header at Gillette Stadiuim in Foxborough July 31 and Aug 1
"The Lover album is open fields, sunsets, + SUMMER. I want to perform it in a way that feels authentic," she tweeted. "I want to go to some places I haven’t been and play festivals. Where we didn’t have festivals, we made some. Introducing, Lover Fest East + West!"
Tickets for the new dates go on sale to the general public via Ticketmaster on Oct. 17.
ReImagined At Home: Watch Ant Clemons Croon The Cosmic Blues In Performance Of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine"
Singer/songwriter Ant Clemons puts his own spin on Bill Withers' immortal "Ain't No Sunshine" in an exclusive performance for ReImagined At Home
Why has Bill Withers' immortal hit, "Ain't No Sunshine," endured for decades? And, furthermore, why does it seem set to reverberate throughout the ages?
Could it be because it's blues-based? Because it's relatable to anyone with a pulse? Because virtually anyone with an ounce of zeal can believably yowl the song at karaoke?
Maybe it's for all of those reasons and one more: "Ain't No Sunshine" is flexible.
In the latest episode of ReImagined At Home, check out how singer/songwriter Ant Clemons pulls at the song's edges like taffy. With a dose of vocoder and slapback, Clemons recasts the lonesome-lover blues as the lament of a shipwrecked android.
Giving this oft-covered soul classic a whirl, Clemons reminds music lovers exactly why Withers' signature song has staying power far beyond his passing in 2020. It will probably be a standard in 4040, too.
Check out Ant Clemons' cosmic, soulful performance of "Ain't No Sunshine" above and click here to enjoy more episodes of ReImagined At Home.
Fleetwood Mac in 1975
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Poll: From "Dreams" To "The Chain," Which Fleetwood Mac Song Is Your Favorite?
"Dreams" experienced a charming viral moment on TikTok after a man posted a video skateboarding to the classic track, and now it's back on the charts, 43 years later
In honor of Fleetwood Mac's ethereal '70s rock classic "Dreams," which recently returned to the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to a viral TikTok skateboard video from Nathan Apodaca, we want to know which of the legendary group's songs is your favorite!
Beyond their ubiquitous 1977 No. 1 hit "Dreams," there are so many other gems from the iconic GRAMMY-winning album Rumours, as well as across their entire catalog. There's the oft-covered sentimental ballad "Landslide" from their 1975 self-titled album, the jubilant, sparkling Tango in the Night cut "Everywhere" and Stevie Nicks' triumphant anthem for the people "Gypsy," from 1982's Mirage, among many others.
Vote below in our latest GRAMMY.com poll to let us know which you love most.