meta-scriptRecord-Breaking Rookie Girl Group NewJeans Are "Enjoying The Ride" On New Release | GRAMMY.com
Record-Breaking Rookie Girl Group NewJeans
NewJeans

Photo: ADOR

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Record-Breaking Rookie Girl Group NewJeans Are "Enjoying The Ride" On New Release

On their sophomore EP, 'Get Up,' NewJeans continue to prove that they are on the cutting edge of K-pop. The five-piece teen group spoke with GRAMMY.com about their rapid rise to fame and coming into their own.

GRAMMYs/Jul 26, 2023 - 02:17 pm

Like their name, K-pop girl group NewJeans are an atemporal classic. Despite debuting just one year ago — no teasers, no big announcements, only a delightful summer hit by the name of "Attention" — their carefully-crafted ID is both utterly cool and longingly comfortable. It’s as if they could fit anywhere, from early-aughts MTV to the most underground basement parties, but still deliver a twist. 

And while some might argue that being so fluid isn’t a compliment — no one is doing it like they do. Their recently released sophomore EP, Get Up, continues to prove that NewJeans are at the cutting edge of music, blending genres like U.K. garage and favela funk into something curiously progressive, but never unpleasant. The album sold almost 1.2 million copies within 24 hours, becoming the second-largest first-day figure for a Korean girl group in history.    

Formed by ADOR, a new label under HYBE (home to K-pop giants like BTS and TXT), the quintet range from 19 to 15 years old, but have reached senior prestige in the blink of an eye. Their eponymous debut EP and single album OMG both also sold over one million copies. They scored branding deals with juggernauts like McDonald's and Coca-Cola. They were featured in Time's Next Generation Leaders. And each of the members landed a high fashion ambassadorship, including with Gucci, Louis Vuitton, YSL, Chanel Korea and Dior. 

But behind all the glamour, Minji, Danielle, Hanni, Haerin, and Hyein are simply teens moved by their passion for music. Their lyrics and music videos depict real-life situations: boy troubles, the complexities of friendships, growing up surrounded by technology. Stripped back from K-pop’s usual overload, they look, sound, and move relatably for their age — an aspect that made their music stand out even more.

Get Up holds that trend. Its six tracks are short snippets of a dual world, depicting the highs and lows of growing up as a woman: sweet and bubbly in "Super Shy," or in "The Powerpuff Girls" collaboration "New Jeans," but haunting and restless in tracks like "Cool With You," or the frantic "ASAP."

The night before the release, NewJeans spoke with GRAMMY.com over Zoom from Seoul. Excitement is the core feeling as they eagerly answer each question. Sometimes, they fall into laughter, or into partial dancing — one arm slide here, one shoulder bump there. As Hanni says more than once, being NewJeans is "just so much fun."

Read on to know their thoughts on what makes their music so special, their rapid rise to fame, and still feeling like kids sometimes.

Congratulations on your new EP, Get Up. What were some of the challenges of preparing this record, compared to your debut EP?

Minji: As we prepared this EP, we tried to capture multiple genres, and that also applies to our performances. We tried out waacking and some contemporary moves, and vocally speaking, I think we tried to take on new challenges too.

In your first song, "New Jeans," you sing "Look it's a new me / Switched it up, who's this / All eyes on us NewJeans." What new sides of yourself were you able to discover in Get Up?

Hyein: Because we haven't even reached our first-year anniversary yet, I think we have much more to offer and show to our audience. I always thought about us as a group that is constantly striving to bring something fresh to the public, and I feel like this album really solidified my confidence and conviction about our identity.

Although you haven’t even celebrated your first anniversary yet, NewJeans have found incredible success from the get go, and reached milestones that other groups usually take years to get to. How do you manage the pressure of having "all eyes on you"?

Danielle: First of all, we're very, very flattered by all the accomplishments, but I feel like we're still beginners, and we try to have that mindset. I think it's important to stay calm and humble about it.

You recorded the music video for "Super Shy" in Lisbon, "Attention" and "Hype Boy" in Barcelona, and you also have upcoming performances at Chicago’s Lollapalooza, Tokyo’s Summer Sonic Festival, and Music Bank in Mexico. How does getting to know other parts of the world influence your work?

Hanni: It's definitely a wonderful opportunity that we're given a chance to film our music videos overseas, and now with Lollapalooza and Summer Sonic, they’re such big international festivals, we're really looking forward to it.

These types of schedules are very eye-opening experiences, and they give us the opportunity to learn different cultures, like, this is how this city looks like, and that city looks like. It just makes the work we’re doing more exciting. I've been so grateful.

The lyrics In "ETA" depict a very relatable conversation between friends. Do any of your songs feel particularly relatable to your life?

Haerin: I think there's something that we can relate to in every song we've had until now, but if I had to pick just one, it would be "Super Shy." I find myself relating to its lyrics a lot, and the duality between the lyrics and the choreography is quite fascinating, because the performance aspect of it is really dynamic and powerful. And yeah, again, I do relate to those lyrics. [Laughs]

A very important question: why is "Get Up" only 36 seconds?

Haerin: Because it's an interlude track, first and foremost. And if you were to look at the order of songs on this EP, "Get Up" is sitting right in the middle of two tracks, so I think that positioning has the job of bringing the entire EP together.

We need more, because that song is so good! Also, "Cool With You" shows a more mature side of NewJeans. When you think of the other members, in what other ways have you noticed their growth?

Hyein: I am the youngest one in the group, so it feels a bit weird to be commenting on the other members. [Laughs]

Minji: No, it’s not. [Pats Hyein’s shoulder]

Hyein: But if I were to speak for the entire group, I think that the type of feedback that we exchange amongst one another has gotten much more specific and detailed, and we are quicker to understand that feedback and apply it to what we do. We have three title tracks in this EP, and each song has a different genre of choreography, so when we were practicing, we had to really focus on putting ourselves in a different mood for each.

This EP talks a lot about time and the timing of certain things, as in "ASAP" and "ETA." You're teenagers now, but do you feel like grown ups? Or do you still feel like kids sometimes?

Danielle: When I was younger, I was always like, "I wanna be older, and I want to be more mature." [Laughs] But now I feel like growth comes naturally when you enjoy the present as much as you can.

Being with the members makes me feel like I'm still a kid sometimes. When I look at myself in music videos from a year ago, I look much different than how I look now, and so I think it's about your mindset, your environment, and who you're around with in the present. The boundaries between kids, teenagers, and adults, I don't feel they are that important.

Minji: I definitely agree. It’s not that important.

Hanni: And we have such wonderful staff members who help us enjoy everything even more. So whether we’re more mature or kids, I think just being able to enjoy it is the most important.

Danielle: Each of us have very different sides. It’s fun to get to know them.

Your songs are often minimalistic and delicate, which stands out in an industry where over-the-top tracks are quite popular. Is there strength in softness?

Haerin: We have a distinct style, but we also like to think that our style is very fluid, and that we are not putting ourselves in boxes. We’re always taking on new challenges and enjoying the ride; that’s what makes NewJeans.

Our music might sound minimalistic and delicate right now, but who knows what's coming in the future? I think that sort of uncertainty and mystery makes this journey more exciting.

As young women growing up in the entertainment industry, how do you balance your personal lives with your onstage personas? Is there a separation between the two?

Hanni: I don't think there is a very clear separation between the two, because music for us started out as a hobby, and soon it turned out into something we really enjoy, so it was very much molded in childhood.

I think we always try to focus on how we can be professional and how we can perform more enjoyable stages for everyone, and doing this is just a part of who we are. There is no line at all. We are silly as we are on and off camera anyways. [Laughs] It’s just lots of fun.

In Korea, you are celebrating the Year of the Rabbit — an animal that is sort of a motif to NewJeans and also the name of your fandom, Bunnies. 10 years from now, how do you think you will look back on this year?

Minji: Well, 10 years is many years down the line, but I do think that I will still be doing what I love. And if [future] me just looks back on me right now, I think she would just feel an immense amount of gratitude for our members, for all the hard work, and be proud of what we're doing.

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Travis Scott performing in 2023
Travis Scott performs at the 2023 Wireless Festival.

Photo: Simone Joyner/Getty Images

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New Music Friday: Listen To New Songs From Travis Scott, Britney Spears, NewJeans & More

July 21 marks a big day of new music releases, including star-studded collaborations like Travis Scott, Bad Bunny and The Weeknd's "K-POP" and a new EP from NewJeans. Hear some of the biggest new songs on GRAMMY.com.

GRAMMYs/Jul 21, 2023 - 08:06 pm

Like so many New Music Fridays before it, July 21 brought a cornucopia of fresh and unique sounds from all over the map.

Want to hear Travis Scott, Bad Bunny and the Weeknd get mellow and psychedelic? Raring to hear the latest dispatch from a One Direction member? Want a taste of A$AP Rocky's long-awaited next album? Is a Britney-shaped chunk missing from your musical life? Want to hear the future of K-pop? 

To these and other questions, this slew of tunes will provide answers. In the below roundup, hurtle into the weekend with wildly divergent sounds from some of music's top acts — many with sizable GRAMMY legacies.

Travis Scott, Bad Bunny, The Weeknd — "K-POP"

A week before nine-time GRAMMY nominee Travis Scott's Utopia livestream event at the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt on July 28 — which will debut his new studio album of the same name — he dropped his sixth collaboration with four-time GRAMMY winner the Weeknd.

"K-POP," the album's lead single, is rounded out by three-time GRAMMY winner Bad Bunny, in his first collab with Scott. This triple-threat track has a stony, smoldering feel, with luxurious production from Boi-1da, among others — and it's elevated by its panoramic, transportive video.

ZAYN — "Love Like This"

The former One Direction member continues his solo legacy with "Love Like This," his first new single since 2021.

Therein, ZAYN extols the virtues of throwing caution to the wind when it comes to infatuation: "Everything is on the line, but I would rather be dead/If it's gonna mean a life that's lived without you, baby," he sings. "I think I gotta take that risk/ 'cause I cannot go back."

In the video, ZAYN putters around on a motorcycle on a gorgeous day. Previously signed to RCA, the singer recently moved to Mercury Records; could "Love Like This" be the ramp-up to a new album? If so, "Love Like This" offers a tantalizing taste of what's to come.

will.i.am, Britney Spears — "MIND YOUR BUSINESS"

After the termination of her conservatorship, GRAMMY winner Britney Spears dipped a toe back into her music career in 2022 with "Hold Me Closer," a duet with Elton John that includes elements of "Tiny Dancer," "The One" and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart."

Now, she's back in earnest with "MIND YOUR BUSINESS," a sassy, pulsing, electronic duet with seven-time GRAMMY winner will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas fame. The track marks the pair's fourth team-up, and first since 2014's "It Should Be Easy" from Spears' Brtiney Jean.

NewJeans — "ETA"

GRAMMY.com called NewJeans one of 10 K-Pop rookie girl groups to watch in 2023, and keeping ears on them has paid off. On July 21, they released their new EP, Get Up, to critical acclaim: NME declared that "​​no one can hold a candle to K-pop's rising wonder girls."

Concurrently with the release of Get Up, they released a joyous, iPhone-shot music video to its effervescent single, "ETA," in which a group of girls find a friend's boyfriend making moves on another lady.

Chris Stapleton — "White Horse"

Chris Stapleton's last album, 2020's Starting Over, helped the country crooner make a clean sweep at the 2022 GRAMMYs. At that ceremony, he won golden gramophones for Best Country Solo Performance ("You Should Probably Leave"), Best Country Song ("Cold") and Best Country Album ("Starting Over").

On Nov. 10, the eight-time GRAMMY winner will release his next LP, Higher. As he revealed the news on July 21, Stapleton also unveiled a majestic rocker of a single, "White Horse." "If you want a cowboy on a white horse/ Ridin' off into the sunset," he sings thunderously, "If that's the kinda love you wanna wait for/ Hold on tight, girl, I ain't there yet."

A$AP Rocky — "RIOT (Rowdy Pipe'n)"

For his latest track, A$AP Rocky dropped a stylish, charming short film for Beats depicting a harried diaper run (a fitting narrative for the new dad, soon to be dad of two, with partner Rihanna). That only contains a minute of the song, though; it's worth luxuriating in the whole thing.

To an uneasy, lumbering beat, Rocky extols a lifestyle to die for ("My wife is erotic/ I'm smokin' exotic/My whip is exotic") as well as his unparalleled connections ("I just call designers up, I free ninety-nine it").

Backed by 13-time GRAMMY winner Pharrell, "RIOT (Rowdy Pipe'n)" is said to be the first single from A$AP Rocky's long-awaited fourth album, Don't Be Dumb; if the quality of the track is any indication, it'll be worth the long haul.

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10 rookie k pop girl groups 20202
(Clockwise from top row) Mimiirose, LE SSERAFIM, NMIXX

All images by The Chosunilbo, JNSImazins via Getty

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10 K-Pop Rookie Girl Groups To Watch In 2023: Le Sserafim, Mimiirose, Ive & More

Girl groups may take over the sound of K-pop in 2023. Read on to learn about 10 female-fronted groups whose 2022 success has made them artists to watch this year.

GRAMMYs/Jan 4, 2023 - 04:22 pm

In 2022, K-pop was defined by women. From early spring hits like (G)I-dle’s "Tomboy" and IVE’s "Love Dive," to BLACKPINK topping the Billboard 200 albums chart and then embarking on the largest world tour for a K-pop girl group, there was no shortage of achievements or great music for K-pop's leading ladies.

Renowned names like TWICE, Mamamoo, ITZY and Red Velvet thrived with new releases, festival appearances, and international tours. Soloists made exciting comebacks — as with artists from BoA, Chung Ha, and Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon — or through  long-awaited debuts, like former Iz*One members Chaeyeon and Yena, Red Velvet’s Seulgi, TWICE’s Nayeon, and many others.

2022 was also the year where legends such as Girls’ Generation, KARA and EXID returned after being inactive for years, instilling a breath of fresh hope in an industry where so few women thrive past their mid-20s. While these changes take time, hopefully their steps will open doors to a different future.

But among countless highlights and broken records, 2022’s crowning jewel has to be the solid collection of girl groups it debuted into the world. Each overflowing with potential and unique flair, GRAMMY.com rounded up 10 names — in order of debut — that are defining how K-pop will sound and look in 2023 and beyond.

Billlie

Debuting at the tail end of 2021, this septet from Mystic Story Entertainment built a peculiar niche right from the start. As it’s written on the cover of their first EP, the Billage of perception : chapter one, "we sing of the mysterious, hidden, and even dangerous B-side." Their lore features multiple dimensions in both real and dream worlds, but centers on figuring out what happened with a fictional girl named Billlie Love.

Much like their narrative, Billlie’s songs are marked by unusual titles ("M◐◑N palace" or "Mcguffins ~ Who's the Joker?" come to mind), quirky soundscapes, and eloquent performances. Early this year, main dancer Tsuki went viral for her fancam performing "GingaMingaYo (the strange world)" — which shows a small glimpse of how mesmerizing they can be.

IVE

Just five days shy of their first anniversary, IVE made history, winning a Daesang (grand prize) for Best Song of the Year at the 2022 MelOn Music Awards for their single "Love Dive." The achievement placed them as the third fastest girl group to win their first grand prize.

"Love Dive," which dominated South Korean charts for months, is a prime example of the "chaebol crush" concept that IVE crafted for themselves: girl crush, but with a hint of royalty. Hailing from Starship Entertainment, the six-member group — which includes Wonyoung and Yujin of Iz*One fame — was one of the biggest sensations of 2022, and are certainly ready to multiply that success in the following years.

Kep1er

Formed last year through Mnet’s survival show Girls Planet 999, Kep1er inaugurated 2022 with debut single "WA DA DA" on Jan. 3, 2022. Its nine members come from different backgrounds and countries (South Korea, China and Japan), but together they form a K-pop Megazord of sorts. Although their style is often bold and loud, their b-sides prove they can work with softer and sultrier styles just as well.

Kep1er is set to disband sometime in July 2024, but don’t cry — in addition to the bops yet to come, temporary groups in K-pop are often fundamental in shaping the next generation of idols (just look at how many former Iz*One members are mentioned on this list). That said, even if Kep1er’s sound isn't much to your taste, you’re better off learning the names of some of K-pop’s future leaders.

NMIXX

The latest girl group off JYP Entertainment — home to titans like TWICE and ITZY — NMIXX debuted in February 2022 with the divisive "O.O." Bringing together multiple tempo changes, soaring chants, rock guitars and a handful of onomatopoeias, the attention-grabbing tune challenged perceptions about what makes a good song.

They confidently call their sound "MIXXPOP," and repeated its profuse nature in September’s theatrical "Dice," to much commercial success. But for those who still aren’t convinced, the sextet has also proven versatility to spare in the unstoppable beats of "Tank," the sweet joy of "Funky Glitter Christmas," and in a show-stopping cover of Seventeen’s "Aju Nice" at KCON 2022 L.A.

LE SSERAFIM

"What you lookin’ at?" LE SSERAFIM ask in their polished debut "Fearless," but the truth is that it was hard not to look at them in 2022. They were the first girl group to debut under HYBE, the entertainment label of groups like BTS, TXT, and ENHYPEN. Adding to the expectation, popular names such as Sakura and Chaewon from Iz*One and Mnet’s "Produce 48" contestant Yunjin also figured in the lineup.

While the anticipation was high, there was no better group to weather these challenges. With a name composed by an anagram of the phrase "I'm fearless," LE SSERAFIM proved that their core is made of steel and flawless releases. If "Fearless" showed what they came for, October’s neo-perreo-influenced "Antifragile" consolidated the quintet as a bold, blazing force to be reckoned with.

CLASS:y

Another girl group formed through a survival show — MBC’s "My Teenage Girl" — CLASS:y debuted in May with the ambitious "Shut Down." The track steamrolls with classic Indian instruments and relentless tempo, proving that while CLASS:y might be lesser known than their peers, they are just as talented.

The full range of their skills is on display during live performances. Radiating confidence beyond their years, they tackle styles that range from Latin-inspired mid-tempos to bouncy bangers meant to stick in your mind for days.

NewJeans

For months, it was rumored that another girl group from HYBE would be debuting under the wings of their subsidiary label, ADOR. However, no one expected their debut to be as groundbreaking as it was. NewJeans dropped "Attention" out of the blue in late July — no teasers beforehand, no info about the members, nothing.

It worked. The release gained over 1.3 million YouTube views in less than 24 hours. Following suit came music videos for all three other tracks off their exquisite self-titled EP, including 2022’s darling summer hit, "Hype Boy." With impeccably chill vibes and an aesthetic filled with Y2K nostalgia, NewJeans were one of 2022’s biggest, most rewarding surprises.

CSR

Formed entirely by 17-year-olds, CSR debuted in the summer with a kind of sound that seemed to be forgotten in recent K-pop. Bringing back memories of groups like GFRIEND and Lovelyz, these rookies' sugary, synth-filled slice of pop effortlessly stood out.

CSR’s first single "Pop? Pop!" is layered with surprises and unfaltering hope — motifs that are repeated throughout their whimsical EP Sequence: 7272 — but it was November’s fizzy "♡TiCON" that got them their first music show win on KBS’s Music Bank, settling the group as ones to watch in 2023.

mimiirose

Although YES IM Entertainment is a newly established company, its CEO is none other than Im Chang-jung — a singer-songwriter and actor known in South Korea for being "the original multi-entertainer." That said, it makes sense why mimiirose left an impression right off the gate with September’s "Rose."

Boasting confident vocals over Middle Eastern-inspired chords, "Rose" offers a fair display of their charms, with special remarks to rapper and former Girls Planner 999 contestant Yoon Jia. The two other tracks off their single album Awesome don't disappoint either. With the tropical house of "Lululu" and the trickling synths of "Kill Me More," mimiirose are primed as self-assured performers with unyielding potential.

Fifty Fifty

Under newcomer label ATTRAKT, Fifty Fifty debuted on Nov. 18 with a strong first EP, The Fifty.

Throughout its four dazzling tracks, the quartet displays various colors and a vocal maturity that is both hard to find and crucial to have. "Tell Me" starts the journey in what could be the perfect indie movie soundtrack, moving swiftly to the synthpop of pre-release "Lovin’ Me" and title track "Higher." By the time that edgy closer "Log In" arrives, you are already sold on Fifty Fifty’s magical appeal.

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Luke Combs
Luke Combs

Photo: Zack Massey

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Tracing Luke Combs' Journey To 'Fathers & Sons' In 10 Songs, From "Be Careful What You Wish For" To "The Man He Sees In Me"

Country phenom Luke Combs' new album, 'Fathers & Sons,' is a touching tribute to his two boys, and a reflection of his journey as a new father. Here are 10 songs that trace his process of growin' up, gettin' old, and now, watching his sons grow up.

GRAMMYs/Jun 13, 2024 - 07:38 pm

As a country artist of remarkable detail and relatability, Luke Combs has the songwriting muscle to deliver a gut-wrenching punch — and his latest set might be the biggest heart-tugger yet.

On June 14, the country star will release his fifth album, Fathers & Sons, which sees Combs stake his claim on songs about family, devotion and belonging. While those are all themes he's explored throughout his five-album discography, he's never honed them quite like this.

Combs is now a proud papa of two; he and his wife, Nicole, welcomed their first son in 2022 and their second in 2023. Fathers & Sons is a 12-song reflection on his experiences as a dad thus far, as well as the unique bond between parents and children.

The new album's highlights, like the mortality-addressing "In Case I Ain't Around"; the dewy, contemplative "Whoever You Turn Out to Be"; and the meditation on memory "Remember Him That Way," are sure to resonate throughout Combs' sizable fan base and beyond.

It's a natural progression for Combs, who has charted the prizes and pitfalls of growing up since his 2017 debut, This One's for You, whether in hits like his Eric Church collaboration "Does To Me" or deep cuts like "Memories Are Made Of." (He even named Father & Sons' 2022 and 2023 predecessors Growin' Up and Gettin' Old.)

His preternatural knack for a heartfelt story song extends to songs he didn't write, too, as his cover of Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" became his biggest hit to date in 2023 and scored him two GRAMMY nominations at the 2024 GRAMMYs.

The familial sentiments of Fathers & Sons have often appeared in Combs' music as well, making his album full of "dad songs" all the more fitting — and continuing his beloved reputation as one of country music's most relatable superstars.

If you're unfamiliar with Combs' back catalog — or just want a refresher — use these 10 songs to trace his evolution from longing for the carefree days of teenhood to fully embracing fatherhood.

"Be Careful What You Wish For" ('This One's for You,' 2017)

Basically Combs' spin on the Beach Boys' "That's Not Me," "Be Careful What You Wish For" reflects on his adolescence — when he had a fire in his belly to hurtle out of his circumstances into the unknown. The result plants seeds for the realizations he passes to his kin on Fathers & Sons.

In the song, an 18-year-old and newly emancipated Combs says sayonara to his "one-horse" town, before realizing the grass ain't always greener. "Sometimes things ain't what you think they're gonna be," Combs sagely warns in the pre-chorus. "What you want ain't always what you need."

"Memories Are Made Of" ('This One's for You,' 2017)

When you look back on your youth, what stuck in your craw most — generic milestones, or fleeting, stolen moments? Chances are, it's the latter, as Combs memorably argues in another This One's for You cut, another dispatch from his youth that resonates with Fathers & Sons.

Therein, he and his ne'er-do-well friends, fresh out of high school, crack open cold ones under a bright blue sky. "Just a couple buds and a good buzz, that's all it was," he sings in the chorus. "But that's what memories are made of." On Fathers & Sons, he seems to recognize his boys will remember the small moments, too — and those are often the ones worth cherishing most.

"Even Though I'm Leaving" ('What You See is What You Get,' 2019)

Many tracks on Combs' second album, What You See is What You Get, showed his maturation as a man and a songwriter, but one served as his introduction to paternal matters: "Even Though I'm Leaving."

The tear-jerker charts the evolution of a father-son relationship, from Dad evacuating a monster under the bed, to seeing his son off to the military, to eventually saying goodbye before his passing.

As the father assures the son in all of those stages, he'll always be there for his boy, even when he isn't physically there. It marked a poignant foreshadowing to Father & Sons' masterful interrogations of mortality and eternal family bonds.

"Dear Today" ('What You See Is What You Get,' 2019)

As What You See is What You Get winds down, the spectre of time still weighs heavily on Combs. "Dear Today" is just that — a letter to Combs' present self, from his future self. (There's a tint of that on "My Old Man Was Right," the penultimate track on Fathers & Sons.)

"You're the only one with a choice in the matter," tomorrow Luke gently, yet firmly, prods. Call your mom, have a drink with your dad, "put that diamond on her hand." What an effective framing device, to capture the crossroads we all face on the cusp of our thirties — another prelude to Combs' advice to his sons on Fathers & Sons.

"Does to Me (feat. Eric Church)" ('What You See Is What You Get,' 2019)

A few years before welcoming his first son, Combs hinted to Rolling Stone that he was ready to settle down. "I'm almost 30 years old now, and I'm not going to be out at the bar every night," he said in 2019. "I just want to grow up a little bit." "Does to Me" is a terrific inventory of what resources, exactly, he possesses in order to carry out that mission.

He's unflinching about the ways he's an ordinary, average guy. After all, the opening line is "I was a third-string dreamer on a second-place team."

But as "Does to Me" lays down, "achievements" have nothing on qualities that really matter, like being a good brother, or romantic partner. Fertile soil for a real man to grow from — and eventually pass on to his own boys.

"Doin' This" ('Growin' Up,' 2022)

In "Doin' This," Combs cements his life mission — regardless of whether it brings him fame and fortune.

He'd still be Luke Combs even if he wasn't Luke Combs, he explains. Whether at the Grand Ole Opry or some watering hole, picking up a guitar and laying waste to a besotted crowd is why he was put on this planet. "I'd still be doin' this if I weren't doin' this": simple, evocative, masterful.

While "Doin' This" isn't necessarily centered around a theme of family, it makes all the sense in the world that his devotion to his boys is in parallel to his devotion of the craft — proof of which is all over Fathers & Sons.

"Used to Wish I Was" ('Growin' Up,' 2022)

You can only be yourself — that's the central message of this equally great Growin' Up cut, where Combs reflects on all the people he could be, and once ached to be.

He could have finished college — or pursued football, hunting or fishing with more chutzpah — but that's not him. This "North Carolina good ol' boy" is what he is — and he's not losing sleep over that pesky fact anymore. By knowing himself, Combs establishes himself as a man of integrity, which is exactly who his sons need as a role model.

"Where the Wild Things Are" ('Gettin' Old,' 2023)

Across his discography, Combs expertly builds out his family dynamics, and that continues on "Where the Wild Things Are." The song concerns a hell-raising brother, who pointed his Indian Scout motorcycle toward Southern California to indulge in earthly pleasures.

After detailing a wild night of brotherly bonding in the Hollywood Hills, the song ends in tragedy, when the "wild as the devil" brother crashes his motorcycle and perishes. "We buried him out in the wind 'neath the West Coast stars," Combs sings, "out where the wild things are."

If any father's lesson is to be taken away from this song: there's a time and a place to enjoy life in all its wildness, without risking calamity. It continues the life lessons Combs touches on again in "Growin' Up and Gettin' Old," and later on Fathers & Sons.

"Growin' Up and Gettin' Old" ('Gettin' Old,' 2023)

Oh, to be in your early thirties — you can't stay out as late, the hangovers hit harder. Overall, your perspective shifts dramatically, and you realize nothing lasts forever.

"I'm still bending rules, but thinkin' 'fore I break 'em/ And I ain't lost a step, I just look before I take 'em," Combs sings on "Growin' Up and Gettin' Old."

As usual, this ever-nimble songwriter nails this pivotal time of life — and takes a hard look in the mirror, taking inventory before undergoing his journey on Fathers & Sons.

"The Man He Sees In Me" ('Fathers & Sons,' 2024)

With Combs still being a very recent father, his sons are at the age where he can do no wrong upon Fathers & Sons' release. Even so, he fears the day that illusion erodes, and lead single "The Man He Sees In Me" details his anxiety over this eventuality.

The song's not fatalistic, though; it's aspirational: "Maybe I'll finally be the man he sees in me" flips into "I hope he's trying to be the man he sees in me."

As Combs wrote in a letter to his boys upon the release of "The Man He Sees In Me," "With this song I want you to know that even though I'm not perfect, I try my hardest every day to be the best version of myself for you both."

He stresses that sentiment throughout Fathers & Sons — an album with a lot of introspective and self-realizing precedent in Combs' increasingly touching discography.

2024 GRAMMYs: Luke Combs & Tracy Chapman Team Up For A Surprise Duet Version Of "Fast Car"

TWICE's Nayeon On Embracing Authenticity For 'NA'
Nayeon

Courtesy of JYP Entertainment

interview

The ABCDs Of Nayeon: How The TWICE Member Embraced Her Authenticity On ‘NA’

With her second solo release, K-pop idol Im Nayeon is unapologetically confident and boldly experimental. Out June 14, 'NA' contains English and Korean language tracks alongside collaborations with prominent Korean artists.

GRAMMYs/Jun 13, 2024 - 05:20 pm

K-pop idol Im Nayeon is a pioneer with many firsts attached to her name: She was the first to become a member of TWICE, the first from the group to go solo, and was the first-ever K-pop soloist to enter the Billboard Top 10. Now, Nayeon is the first member of TWICE to release a second solo album. 

Nearly two years after her solo debut, Nayeon arrives with a new mini-album, NA —  the title a play on her name and the Korean word for "me." The seven-track record highlights the singer’s unapologetic nature, exploring themes of self-confidence, romance, and tenacity. Nayeon has certainly had to be tenacious in her road to the new EP.

"I don’t know if you can tell, but I really can’t believe that this moment is [finally] happening," Nayeon tells GRAMMY.com. "I really wanted to showcase myself as a confident woman this time around."

NA contains a mix of English and Korean language tracks alongside collaborations with prominent Korean artists. Throughout, the singer tackles pop, R&B, dance and electro-pop with ease. Lead single "ABCD" takes inspiration from 2000s era pop divas, adding hints of hip-hop as Nayeon teaches the A-Zs of love with witty lyrics and a magnetizing rhythm. While Nayeon has previously sung about love with flirtatious undertones, "ABCD" shows the singer's straightforward intentions. 

It seems becoming a superstar was fated for the Seoul native. When she was young, Nayeon caught the attention of agents at JYP Entertainment from a modeling contest — however, given her age, her mother refused to let her sign with an entertainment agency. At 14, Nayeon defied her mom's decision and snuck out of her home to attend JYPE’s 2010 open casting, where she passed the audition and ranked in second place. With her strong ambition to pursue an idol career, Nayeon decided to join JYPE as a trainee that same year.

After three years of training, she was slated to debut as a member of a girl group 6MIX. However, the debut was scrapped afterJYPE was unable to find replacements for members that exited the project. In 2015, Nayeon was chosen from a pool of trainees to enter JYPE’s survival program "Sixteen," and became the first member chosen for nine-piece girl group TWICE. Nayeon is the group's face, as well as its eldest member, lead vocalist, and dancer. 

Nayeon has since become one of the most recognizable members of TWICE, best known for her impressive vocal range and warm essence. Her public image became the epitome of an animated K-pop idol, always exhibiting her youthful personality and sunny disposition to everyone she encounters. Over the course of nine years together in TWICE and hundreds of releases later, Nayeon has proved herself to be the spine of the global girl group. 

Read more: TWICE Reflect On Milestone Moments & Latest 'With YOU-th' EP

Nayeon introduced herself to the world as a soloist in June 2022 with her debut album IM NAYEON, a high-spirited and feel-good summer EP that showcased her perky identity. The album hit No.1 on Billboard's Top Album Sales chart — the highest-selling album in the week of its release — and debuted No .7 on the Billboard 200. Lead single "POP!" has since turned into a fan-favorite, and remains a singalong anthem at TWICE’s concerts two years later. 

While IM NAYEON built off her easy going nature, NA will leave fans enamored by Nayeon’s artistic awakening and newly matured chapter in her solo career. The album’s trailer and concept photos unveiled Nayeon’s assured, hip and hot appeal — a side she has yet to show as a soloist. 

GRAMMY.com caught up with Nayeon via Zoom to learn more about the creation of NA, and how the past two years have impacted her as a soloist and individual. 

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Is there anything that feels different in terms of releasing NA nearly two years after your solo debut album?

Because my first solo album was the first solo work ever done by a member of TWICE, the pressure was pretty high. There was fear in me, as well, to try something completely new. But since [NA] is my second album as a soloist, I did [my best] to enjoy the ride more this time around. 

I can't say that I'm completely comfortable right now being a solo artist. But compared to [IM NAYEON], I'm much more at ease about it. 

Is there anything new you wanted to showcase this time around in NA?

The performance for the title song "ABCD" is quite different from what I have typically been showing [as TWICE]. So [in that essence], this is what’s new and challenging for [NA].

The performance itself is very powerful, and I wanted to express a bold and cool side of me. Of course, I have shown that side of me [before] during TWICE concerts or performances, but with "ABCD," I want it to be different from [IM NAYEON] specifically, which was just a totally different vibe [in comparison]. 

Does it feel easier to showcase this bolder side of yourself now that you've been a soloist for a few years?

Since I have been working as one of the members of TWICE for so long, I think it feels more meaningful if I show a different side of me through my solo work. So [while] it's new and fun, I can't say that it's easier.

I think it'll be fun for our fans. They receive it really well when we show off a different side of [ourselves]. [Our fans] encourage us a lot so I think it's a great change of pace.

You collaborated with a variety of artists on NA, including American singer/songwriter Sam Kim and K-pop artists Lee Chan-hyuk (AKMU) and Julie (KISS OF LIFE). How was that experience for you?

When I work as [TWICE], there are so many of us that it's really hard to collaborate with other artists. We don't really get that opportunity that often. But when it comes to solo work, it's a really fun and rewarding experience to work with many different artists. 

I haven't really gotten the chance to meet and talk with the artists featured on my album, but it was me who initiated the collaboration process. I specifically asked Lee Chanhyuk, Julie, and Sam Kim to collaborate with me. [That] was a really new experience for me and it just felt great.

I’ve been a huge fan of Lee Chanhyuk for a very long time, so that’s why I specifically asked for him to [help produce] in ["HalliGalli"]. For the song "Magic," we were looking for a female rapper and I had my eye on Julie from KISS OF LIFE. After seeing her perform, I loved [her]! So I very strongly suggested my opinion to have her feature with me on this track. 

Read more: 11 Rookie K-Pop Acts To Know In 2024: NCT Wish, RIIZE, Kiss Of Life & More

It seems like you’re revealing more of yourself with NA. Would you say that this new album is an extension to IM NAYEON?

Oh, of course! The concept and overall theme is much different from [IM NAYEON]. But since both [albums] focus on me as an artist, I think you can say that some parts are an extension while other parts reveal a different side of me.

Were there any expectations or challenges you faced during the album-making process?

Although "POP!" also featured intense choreography, "ABCD" demands a different kind of expression — prompting me to focus more on the performance aspect. 

Additionally, as this is a solo album, I must exert more energy compared to performing with a group. I have to command the entire stage alone for one song. Consequently, I am somewhat concerned that people may perceive me as exhausted, though I will do my best to prevent that! 

Since the release of IM NAYEON, how have you evolved as a person and an artist?

Many people saw that [IM NAYEON] really suited me and my public image. In [NA], I’m revealing a more confident and new side of me. The performance and concept challenged me to evolve [as an artist] in that aspect. 

I have grown a lot as an individual. I released my first solo debut album, and in TWICE, we just completed a huge scale world tour. Next year marks the 10th anniversary for [TWICE] as well. These past few years have been a period of self reflection with the opportunity for [more] growth. 

I have really come to realize why I chose this profession. That realization became a drive as an artist to keep moving forward and improve [upon] myself. 

Read more: Inside SoFi Stadium At TWICE’s Record-Breaking L.A. Show

Over the course of your career, are there important lessons or insights you’ve learned?

I think one of the biggest insights I’ve noticed in the past few years is how valuable the members of TWICE are [to me]. There are things that I cannot do alone but am able to do because TWICE are right beside me. I realized that my fears go away when I’m with the TWICE members. I have come to appreciate them even more over the last few years. I realized even more now how important their existence is to me while working as a solo artist. 

It seems as if TWICE are your encouragement and driving force.

Yes, they really are! 

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