PHOTO: JYP Entertainment
Inside SoFi Stadium At TWICE’s Record-Breaking L.A. Show
K-pop girl group TWICE made history for selling out the Los Angeles venue, where they kicked off their nine-date North American tour. GRAMMY.com recaps TWICE's L.A. show with five of its most exciting moments.
K-pop girl group TWICE kicked off the North American leg of their tour on June 10, bringing their Ready To Be tour to eager fans. After setting the record last year as the first female K-pop artist to hold a stadium concert in the U.S., the nine-member ensemble became the first-ever girl group and first Asian female act to sell out Los Angeles' SoFi Stadium.
An inspirational group that needs no introduction, nine-member ensemble TWICE has returned to the United States for their fifth world tour, Ready To Be. As they enter their eighth year together, TWICE strives to show the world they are ready to embrace their authentic soul and are capable of taking on any challenge that stands before them.
With continuous success since their 2015 debut, TWICE have helped shape the landscape in K-pop and pave the way for the next generation of female artists. For their efforts, TWICE were honored with the Breakthrough Award at the 2023 Billboard Women in Music Awards — becoming the first Korean group to receive this feat. Tzuyu summarized their gratitude: "This accomplishment will forever motivate us to challenge ourselves and break more barriers."
On their Ready To Be tour — which includes 17 shows around the globe — TWICE continue to show the world they are ready to embrace authenticity and take on any challenge. TWICE kicked off their U.S. tour with a number of surprises; read on for some exciting moments from TWICE's L.A. show that will encourage fans to attend their remaining American stops.
There's An Important Thematic Takeaway
The theme and title of the tour follows a mini-album of the same name, released in March. Jihyo asked the audience if they knew the meaning behind the title, and Dahyun chimed in to explain its significance.
"It means we are ready to show you who we are, just as we are," she said. "As time goes by, we became more comfortable being ourselves…We are ready to be happy with you right now tonight through this stage!"
With encouragement and love from their fans, TWICE have become more confident in themselves. This strength blossoms even more the longer they are together — and was evident throughout the 3-hour show.
An Ocean Of Lightsticks Sync Up At The Show
Synchronized light sticks are often used at K-pop concerts to create an interactive experience between the artist and their fans. Hours before showtime, Live Nation’s announced that TWICE’s lightsticks will synchronize at their U.S. concert dates — a pleasant surprise for fans attending the tour.
This feature hasn’t always been made available for K-pop artists’ U.S. shows. The colors of TWICE’s lightsticks changed throughout the show, coordinating with talking points, and features on various stages. During songs like "MORE & MORE" and "MOONLIGHT SUNRISE," the glowing light sticks elevated the already energetic party — encouraging fans to get on their feet and dance with all their might.
There's A Live Band For The Very First Time
In the second half of the show, Dahyun asked fans if they noticed anything new or different about this tour. As she takes a glance into the audience and with a huge smile on her face, she responds, "You have a live band for the first time this tour!"
With the addition of a guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, and drummer on-stage, TWICE’s concert setlist now has an addictive depth that changes the way fans hear their favorite songs. Songs like "FANCY" and "Queen of Hearts" now have an amplified and addictive rock twist that will have attendees headbanging to the beat.
In past tours, fans remained hopeful that TWICE would one day invite a live band for their concerts as previous concerts incorporated newly arranged instrumentals for live performances. Thankfully, it’s worth the wait.
Each Member Has A Solo Stage And Unique Theme
Following their goal of showcasing their authentic individuality, each member of TWICE performed were highlighted with their own solo stage. There, Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung, and Tzuyu performed a range of covers, singles (including unreleased tracks), or a dance piece.
These solo performances featured specific colors to reflect the auras they carry as both individuals and idols. Each member also explained the meaning behind their song choice, and connected it with a personal, but relatable, message.
While the ambiance changed for each member’s performances, they all shared one thing in common: a tenacious and self-assured stage presence with undeniably alluring visuals.
You May Hear A Never-Before Experienced Japanese Track
Fans who have attended previous TWICE shows know that the ensemble ends the night with songs decided by a roulette wheel featuring fan-favorite or never-before-performed hits.
The wheel itself has a bit of a humorous and chaotic reputation for being rigged by the members, specifically by Nayeon. At one point during their Los Angeles show, she asked fans, "Should I cheat or no?".
But TWICE always gives their fans a chance to pick based on their cheers. With a loud and resounding chant, everyone in the audience pleaded for the only Japanese track on the wheel that night: "Doughnut." The Los Angeles crowd got their wish — making this the first time a Japanese track from their discography is performed in the U.S. As the introduction of "Doughnut" began, each member took off their ear pieces and looked in awe at the crowd’s overjoyed energy.
There’s no guarantee a randomly selected Japanese track will be performed at every stop left of their U.S. tour dates, but there’s hope.
If there’s one conclusion to draw from attending TWICE’s Ready To Be tour, it’s that their enthralling spirit and chemistry will make anyone in attendance — young or old — an instantaneous fan.
Photo: JYP ENTERTAINMENT
TWICE's Jihyo Takes Steps Into Her 'Zone' On Debut EP
In an interview, TWICE member Jihyo discusses her songwriting process, overcoming uncertainty, and how she's spent the past 18 years readying herself for a solo debut.
Park Jihyo first entered the spotlight in a child acting competition when she was 8 years old. Her performance left an impression on agents from K-pop behemoth JYP Entertainment. Much has happened in the interim — including a record-breaking tour with her group TWICE — but 18 years after that competition, Jihyo will make her official solo debut via JYPE.
Jihyo is the latest member of TWICE to debut with a solo release; her first mini-album, Zone, drops on Aug. 18. Jihyo has contributed to the composition and lyrics for the majority of the seven-track EP.
"I wanted to diversify as much as possible so that listeners can have fun while listening to my album. Each song has a different genre and feel to it," she tells GRAMMY.com, adding, "I am both nervous and excited at the same time!"
It seems as if every moment in Jihyo's career has led to this point. Jihyo signed with JYPE in 2005 and spent the majority of her youth refining her singing, dancing, and self-confidence. She joined the reality girl group survival competition "Sixteen" in 2015, and was eventually selected to join the lineup of JYPE’s next girl group. Today, Jihyo is the leader and main vocalist of the nine-member ensemble TWICE, performing alongside Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung, and Tzuyu.
Jihyo has penned a number of tracks in TWICE's discography such as "Get Loud," "First Time," and "Trouble" to name a few, and lent her vocal skills to three 2022 Korean drama original soundtrack singles — "Stardust love song" ("Twenty-Five Twenty-One"), "I Fly" ("Today's Webtoon"), and "A Strange Day" ("Summer Strike"). Zone is expected to be Jihyo’s most compelling and personal project to date that aims to highlight her musical self-discovery, impressive vocal range, and audacious spirit.
Zone's teaser trailer, promotional images and highlight medley have led to highly anticipated chatter among TWICE's fans — some of whom got to experience one track from Zone live during their recent Ready To Be tour. Relying heavily on perseverance and grace to get to this moment, Jihyo believes it's time for her respective musical prowess to take the spotlight.
Over Zoom, Jihyo discussed Zone, her first collaboration with a Western artist, and what she'd tell her younger self as a soloist.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Can you take me through your songwriting process for Zone? After previously penning 13 tracks in TWICE's discography, it must have felt different to write six songs for your own album.
After my solo album was decided, they [company management] wanted me to participate in the songwriting process. The most difficult part was that they didn't really give me a concept for the album because they wanted me to choose what I wanted to express. It was really difficult to decide what I wanted to share and figure out what it is I wanted to tell in [Zone].
That's why the songs on the album are so diverse — it's the process of me figuring out what message I wanted to convey through this album. So, [Zone] actually shows [my] discovery process.
What can you tell us about the first track, "Killin’ Me Good?"
The genre of the song is up-tempo R&B. While listening to other candidates for the [opening] track, "Killin' Me Good" really stood out because of the melody in the verse. It was really catchy to my ears, and I really feel that "Killin' Me Good" is suitable as the title.
Zone had two artist collaborations: "Don’t Wanna Go Back," featuring Korean R&B singer Heize, and "Talkin’ About It," featuring Western singer/rapper 24kGoldn. Can you share your experience on the process?
Which [songs] would have features wasn't decided in the beginning. We [then] chose songs that needed something to enhance it with another mood, vocals, or rap part.
For "Don't Wanna Go Back," we decided that we wanted a female voice that is suitable for ballads. For "Talkin' About It," it needed a male rap part.
24kGoldn's feature in "Talkin' About It" is actually the first time a TWICE member has collaborated with a Western artist. How did that come about?
The writing process for "Talkin' About It" began in February when I was in the U.S. I felt that the mood of the song needed English lyrics.
Since we were writing the song in the States, we wanted to work with artists that are fluent [in English] and from the States, as well. So that's why we chose to go with 24kGoldn and I am super satisfied with the result!
Was there a vision you had in mind when preparing the visual concepts for Zone?
In the trailer, I wanted to show my natural and positive side while at the same time, a little bit of a chic and dark side of me to showcase many looks at the same time. I wanted to show both myself and the mood of this album.
Fans who attended the Ready To Be tour were given a chance to watch you perform your upcoming b-side "Nightmare." How did it feel to showcase it live for the first time?
When I sang "Nightmare" for the tour, my solo album wasn't officially announced at that time. I wanted to showcase the song as a little bit of a spoiler. And since it is completely different from the title track, I thought it was a really great song to use to spoil my album and it was a lot of fun!
When preparing your solo debut, as you mentioned earlier, you felt nervous and a little bit worried about the end result. How do you keep yourself grounded in the face of uncertainty?
When I was preparing for [Zone], I was also doing the concerts. So I was actually in the middle of two very big things in my career. And of course, I felt a lot of pressure.
I doubted myself on whether I could pull it off or not. But I knew deep down that if I didn't give it my all, and if I didn't do my best in pursuing these two really great things in my life, I [would] regret it later. So I didn't really think about how successful my solo album or the concert will be. I wanted to focus on the process and I wanted to focus on doing my best. And once I realized that, I felt much more at ease.
That seems like a lot to juggle all at the same time. So now that it's done, I'm sure you must feel a little more relaxed now that it's completed!
Yeah, I'm very relieved! [Laughs]
You've been a member of TWICE since 2015 and trained at JYP for over a decade. What’s the most important thing you learned as an idol so far?
I never realized how my career was going up until recently. But with the [Ready To Be world tour], it really made me realize how far I've come and how much success I've gained. This tour really meant a lot to me.
At 8 years old, you began your journey as an artist,and now you're here sharing your solo debut with the world. If you were given the chance to, is there anything you'd like to tell your younger self?
My personality is that I easily forget things.
So, of course, the journey that started at 8 years old has not been an easy one, or has not always been easy. But I don't dwell on [the] things that pains me. I'd rather focus on the moment and try to enjoy every single moment. That's what I would like to tell my younger self: try to enjoy every moment of this.
Looking towards the future, what kind of legacy do you hope to leave behind as an artist?
In this album, I wanted to showcase dance tracks. But at some point in the future, I want to release a ballad album and I also want to try jazz at some point.
I think I would describe myself as an adventurous type, so I want to try everything! I want to show the world a very diverse output. I think the process of going through that adventure would mean a lot to me personally.
All images courtesy of Artist except Stray Kids (Jun Sato/WireImage via GettyImages) and Twice (JYP Entertainment).
What's Next For K-Pop? A Roundtable Unpacks The Genre's Past, Present And Future
K-pop evolves each year, but what makes it so enticing? And what awaits in the future? GRAMMY.com invited industry leaders, and members of TWICE and Stray Kids, to discuss K-pop's current state, biggest misconceptions, and celebrate its magic.
K-pop recently entered its third decade since pioneers Seo Taiji and Boys upheaved South Korea with 1992’s nonconforming "Nan Arayo" — considered by many the inception of the industry. Propelled by the Hallyu (or Korean Wave, the phenomenon driving international growth and popularity to the country’s cultural exports), K-pop has evolved from a niche genre to a global scene whose influence is felt in music, fashion, business, tech, and many other fields.
Characterized by a strong visual focus, musical innovation that can include anything from reggae to EDM influences in a single song, knife-sharp choreographies, and devoted fandoms, K-pop’s reach outside of South Korea is nothing short of outstanding — if not expected. While mostly known for multi-member boy and girl groups (some with upwards to 10 singers), there are also plenty of soloists, duos, trios, and a few co-ed ensembles, ensuring that even the pickiest music listener can find something to enjoy.
Its idols — as K-pop artists are called — are inspirational, often skilled in singing, dancing, rapping, songwriting, and producing after years of arduous training. Many are fashion ambassadors to high fashion brands (such as BTS’ Jimin for Dior), and several have ventured into acting, modeling, and designing their own collections. Idols remain in touch with global fans through tours, fan meetings, virtual fancalls and social media, including K-pop-specific paid apps, like HYBE’s Weverse and DearU’s Bubble, where they can send direct messages to fans detailing their routines and heartfelt thoughts.
All those factors contribute to the worldwide growth of K-pop. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, eight of the top 10 global album sales in 2022 were by K-pop acts, including BTS, Stray Kids, and ENHYPEN. For the first quarter of 2023, Billboard reported that stocks from K-pop's largest companies — HYBE, SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment — have risen an average of 75.1 percent year to date, surpassing both Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, which each presented a decline.
Ten years after PSY’s 2012 mania "Gangnam Style," K-pop has risen to the upper echelons of the music industry. A BTS music video nominated for A GRAMMY Award (last year’s "Yet to Come"); Fifty Fifty’s viral hit "Cupid" can be heard on the radio; BLACKPINK headlined Coachella and TWICE sold out Los Angeles' SoFI Stadium. Each a feat that seemed impossible not too long ago.
Moving at breakneck speed, K-pop continues to present a new evolution of itself within each year. But what makes it so enticing? And what awaits in the future? GRAMMY.com invited several leaders and luminaries of the industry to discuss its current state, demystify some of its biggest misconceptions, and celebrate its magic.
Quotes from these interviews have been edited for brevity and clarity.
What do you think are the key elements to make a K-pop hit? Have these elements changed throughout the years?
Vince (singer/songwriter/producer under THEBLACKLABEL, an associate company to YG Entertainment): Being a Korean American living in Korea gave me cultural influences that are unique and diverse. With so many creatives from different backgrounds just like mine, I think we’ve been able to make songs that blend all those influences and resonate with not only the Korean audience, but the global audience too. Also, our emphasis on making the right visuals to provide a wholesome experience was a major key to success. I think this approach hasn’t changed and we will continue to do that moving forward.
Marion Van der wees (manager/A&R consultant at VDW Music Group, who placed songs for BTS, TXT, and more): Honestly, nowadays, nobody knows what a hit is. Lots of songs have gone viral in the most surprising ways. Fifty Fifty, who recently debuted, is now topping the global charts with their song "Cupid." However, the ideal recipe for a great K-pop song would be a catchy hook/chorus — which is usually in English so more people can sing it — and a danceable song that can bring on a choreography that is infectious enough so people want to learn them and make TikToks.
Nayeon (singer/songwriter, TWICE member): First, I think we were lucky enough to have amazing songs. "Luck" plays an important role when making a hit. Also, there has to be a concept, choreography, and additional content to support it. I don’t think these factors change with time drastically, but rather our attitudes and minds tend to change.
Adrian McKinnon (songwriter, producer): I think it's important to love what you're working on, period. In any career, there comes a point when a person can just phone in an idea, a letter, a proposal, etc. You may be able to get away with that once or twice, but if you get used to operating in that manner, don't be surprised if you get fewer and fewer calls over time. When you love what you do, you grow. When you float along half-assing your work, you're stagnant.
Wonderkid (songwriter/producer under BELIFT LAB, a label founded by CJ ENM and HYBE responsible for boy group ENHYPEN): It is difficult to make a public appeal solely through the power that a track holds. When the concept and plan go hand in hand with the track, it creates a synergistic effect.
There are definitely certain trends during certain periods, but it’s mostly a façade. At the core of high quality music (or art) in any era lies in the essence of "beauty." I think artists should always be humble when it comes to the beauty of art, which is the only definite signpost that connects the past, present, and future.
Changbin (singer/songwriter, Stray Kids member): I think that keeping our style consistent while venturing into diverse sounds is part of what allows people to listen to our music. At first it was difficult because our color is very strong, but now we have a solid idea as to what direction we have to go in. [Editor's note: "Colors" are often used in reference to a group's charms, musical identity and appeal.]
HAN (singer/songwriter, Stray Kids member): Trends change very quickly these days, so while I do believe that there are certain sounds that are trending, I don’t necessarily believe that trends are what make a good song. The fact that Stray Kids’ music is always consistent is the reason why listeners are interested in us. A successful song should contain something familiar yet fresh.
Felix (singer/songwriter, Stray Kids member): I don’t believe we’ve found the key elements to make a K-pop hit yet, but we do have our own way of making our own music. We understand and can express our colors well.
Although K-pop reached unimaginable heights since its origins, it's still an industry that is often misunderstood. Why do you think it's so hard for people to appreciate the true value of K-pop?
Vince: I think idols get misunderstood because they have to present themselves in the media in a lot more diverse ways than a conventional artist would. Most of them are people that have been training to do music for years and are just like any other artist who go through the process of making music. A lot of times, for me, it was a cooperative effort in the studio with artists — just like with any other writer and producer.
Shin Cho (Head of K-pop at Warner Music Asia): I simply see it as stereotypes, misunderstandings, and preferences from people who come from a different background. This occurs in many industries, not just music.
One might think a self-producing singer/songwriter is a better artist than a K-pop group. Although the scene is continuously evolving, K-pop idols are more closely monitored and coached by talented and experienced professionals, compared to other genres. It’s an approach that has created its own successes, but I see why it’s a method that not many can agree on.
McKinnon: I want to preface this answer with my belief that K-pop idols are some of the hardest-working people in show business. I've spoken to some of my idol friends about their daily routines. Let's just say they are very, very busy people.
I think it's multi-layered. People know that idols work within a system of creators, stylists, choreographers, taste-makers, and directors who, more often than not, put together all the ideas for them. I've heard of people challenging their authenticity because of this. I don't think this is fair, because systems like this exist outside of K-pop as well. It's also important to mention that there are many K-pop idols who have more hands-on with their projects.
Simon Jakops (CEO/Executive Producer at XGALX, responsible for girl group XG; former member of boy group DMTN): Being involved in the K-pop scene for over 10 years, I believe that idols are true artists. For the K-pop system, there is an element that is considered as important as talent, and it is "spirit." A true artist won’t lose the grit to walk their own path.
I have been in charge of producing and directing XG, a girl group with all-Japanese members currently active in Korea, for the past six years. It took five years for them to debut. Out of 1,300 applicants, only seven made their final debut. I believe K-pop stars' challenging spirit and dedication [to the process] are one of the most basic virtues an artist should have. And I hope that these qualities will be evaluated more properly.
Dom Rodriguez (SVP/Head of SM Entertainment USA): I often find myself comparing K-pop idols to professional athletes: people who work and strive for years and years to take raw talent and develop it to the highest level. When people take a moment to understand the dedication, commitment, and passion that goes into becoming a K-pop artist, they quickly learn how to appreciate that and any of those other thoughts they might have are put to rest.
Many media outlets spread harmful narratives about K-pop. Claims of it being a "factory system" or that it hides a "dark side" worse than any other field only flatten and dehumanize the very real humans behind it. What would you like to say about these misconceptions?
Vince: We have so many people trying to be "in the system" to become artists, but it’s really a select few that get to come and go through the training program. As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t witnessed any dehumanizing process with the "system" at all.
Cho: Incubating and developing a K-pop artist is a massive investment. It’s a business that cannot be operated without real humans’ dedication and commitment. There were cases where "factory system" and "dark side" happened, but at least in this new K-pop era, no labels that carried over some of those bad practices have survived.
Wonderkid: To understand the misconceptions about the K-pop industry, you need to understand the situation in South Korea, both past and present. The word "factory system" brings an image of a cold factory full of machines churning out products without any passion. [If it were,] the public would see right through it and turn away immediately. If "factory system" pertains to "well-organized systems in place to do multiple tasks simultaneously," then I would agree with this specific concept.
Earlier this year, HYBE's Chairman Bang Si-hyuk said in an interview for CNN that "K-pop is not as hot in the market as you might perceive," and was concerned about its slowdown in growth. Is this something you are also experiencing in your work?
Van der wees: On the song side it’s the opposite. More than ever, competition is at its peak, in my opinion. A lot of people reach out to me to work in K-pop, and it feels like it's fast growing.
Wonderkid: As a producer, I may not be fully aware of the business side of the K-pop industry like Chairman Bang does, but I respect his insights and do not take his concerns lightly. I am constantly studying and playing with different musical genres and trends to keep K-pop up to the latest trend. Quality content will yield results and putting all of my effort into creating quality content is the most I can do.
Jakops: Rather paradoxically, Chairman Bang's quote proves the huge influence K-pop has in the current global music market. The most fearful moment could be when you are receiving the greatest love. As a producer myself, I always focus on "novelty." Whatever the element, I would like to propose an idea that has not been seen in the existing K-pop scene. Fans are also waiting for that kind of music. New sounds, new members, new visuals, whatever.
With the advent of AI, the music industry will likely experience changes. In what ways do you think AI will impact your work?
Vince: I am very fascinated by AI technology, and it will definitely impact the music industry and my work. Now that AI-generated voices can sing anything, I do think it is very dangerous, because I don’t think there are set laws regarding the ownership of voices and the ownership of rights to AI-generated intellectual properties. How we set the rules on these matters will shape how AI will impact the industry.
Van der wees: If AI starts writing songs and labels want to go that route, we will be in trouble. But we are humans and we connect deeper on a human level, a.k.a imperfection. Collaborations between writers, producers, and artists are such a fun process that will hopefully never go away.
Cho: I think AI could enhance and open up new opportunities in different areas of the music industry. On my marketing team, for example, we have started to encourage utilizing ChatGPT in administrative works, translations, and supporting creative problems. I believe that AI technology can potentially become a new day-to-day ritual, like using the Internet and social media.
Wonderkid: AI can be a good tool for first-level reference, where you don't need to go through complicated, emotional steps, and I look forward to seeing how it develops to be a creative tool. However, as someone who works in the industry, I don't think it's had a significant impact yet.
I think creators and the public alike read and love "subconscious messages" embedded in art, but there is no "subconsciousness" in an AI's work. It looks good on the surface, but we recognize what is missing in half a second. I think of it as falling in love with a robot: it may someday be possible, but it would take a very, very long time.
Jakops: The rise of AI represents a paradigm shift in the music industry. AI can not only create melodies, write lyrics, or compose entire works, but it can also spot trends and influence creative direction through data analysis. You can see that they are already trying to introduce it into some fields, such as writing lyrics. It will also help redefine the way artists connect with their fans and deliver personalized experiences across multiple channels.
I think AI will serve as an opportunity for human nature, originality, and creativity to stand out more. The challenge will be striking the right balance between harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence and maintaining the human element in music.
Although not every group can be an unprecedented phenomenon on a global scale, more and more K-pop acts have seen steady success promoting overseas, like TWICE becoming the first girl group from any country to sell out L.A.'s SoFi Stadium this year. Do you think it's essential for a group to chase global appeal?
Van der wees: I'm a big world advocate. It's more entertaining to chase global appeal, but not everybody has the budget for it. If labels see the potential for global success and have the financial support, they should definitely do it. There are a few groups, like ATEEZ, who actually have a bigger fan base outside of South Korea.
McKinnon: I think it's important for business, sure. With Bang Si-hyuk's notion that "K-pop is not as hot in the market as you might perceive," and from my experience of hearing some fans not liking the idea of their favorite idols globalizing, there may be a bit of a tug-of-war. In my opinion, K-pop groups going global will benefit the whole music industry.
Jakops: It is true that XG started their activities in the K-pop scene, where idol artists are most active, but in reality, the music that XG develops is called "XPOP." It contains the desire to develop music and activities that can be shared with people around the world, not limited to groups that express the musical characteristics of a single country.
Rodriguez: At this point, the genre is global. There are so many fans all over the world who love K-pop, and our acts have truly reached that global level. Because that appetite is there, as an artist, you would want to try to reach as many fans as possible. With all of the platforms available, you can reach millions of people at once with the push of a button and, if and when you can, show up to meet your fans in person across the globe.
K-pop is an extremely prolific market. How do you make sure your work stands out and maintains high levels of quality?
Van der wees: My writers love challenging melodies, lyrics, production, and strive for better each time. We deliver as great of demos as possible, and then it's in the label's hand to decide what they prefer and finalize the song with their in-house team. We sometimes won't even know a song will be released until a few days before the release date.
Momo (singer/songwriter, TWICE member): I'd like to know the answer to that as well. In my case, I try my best to pull off the concept of each song. Also, our members work hard to synchronize our choreography in a short amount of time.
Dahyun (singer/songwriter, TWICE member): We try to maintain TWICE’s identity, but also change it up a little bit to show different sides of us.
McKinnon: Be great. Take time to do it right. Be great. Utilize your network wisely. Be great. Maintain a positive attitude but be true to yourself. Be great. Don't be selfish. Be great.
Jakops: In the fierce market competition, the basis for establishing XG's unique identity is the character of each member who has been with me for more than five years. Music is an industry where people are more important than systems. I have been concentrating on the idea that discovering each member's character and bringing them to life can be our most important weapon.
I emphasize teamwork; our team gathers ideas every day on how to make the next project bigger and better than the previous one. It requires a lot of time and effort, but it's no exaggeration to say that it's our everything. The only way to get better at something is to practice consistently.
Bang Chan (singer/songwriter, Stray Kids member): A lot of thought goes into the process, for sure. It’s pressuring to know that there are a lot of people out there expecting something big from us. However, enjoying that process and producing something new that people haven’t seen yet makes everything more fun and reduces the burden on our shoulders.
Lee Know (singer/songwriter, Stray Kids member): We continuously seek inspiration from everyday life. We also workout all the time to increase our stamina, which is something that really helps us pull through.
Some K-pop labels apply a "try everything and see what sticks" method for their artists. Do you think that having a solid identity is crucial for success?
Van der wees: There is a strategy behind everything. I think concepts are what make K-pop, K-pop. Some bands might have specific identities but it doesn’t stop them from having variety in their releases. Labels even create sub-groups nowadays to expand their sound and outreach. Each group has its specificity and there is a bit of everything for everybody.
Cho: There are two ways to look at this. A negative way of looking is that there is no strategy and plan. A more positive way is that there is a flexibility in trying different things, even if they are outside of one’s comfort zone. Enhancing the mindset of the latter, and finding better solutions on the former, I feel like the K-pop industry can find a good balance to reach success.
Sana (singer/songwriter, TWICE member): In my opinion, regardless of a solid concept or sound identity, making music that the artist wants and enjoys is the most important. The fact that the artists themselves enjoy their music will be the biggest charm to people.
Chaeyoung (singer/songwriter, TWICE member): When you're a rookie group you can try different concepts and music, and naturally you’ll find your own team color. The longer I have been in TWICE, I have realized that. I wish people will be able to listen to a song and say, "That sounds like TWICE!"
Jakops: I firmly believe that only when all the direction of training, the selection of music, the crafting process, the visual works, and marketing activities are carried out with a solid, definite concept, the results that the public will love can come out.
Hyunjin (singer/songwriter, Stray Kids member): I think that once you find your own style, the identity of the group as a whole becomes much clearer, making it easier to win the hearts of fans. Diverse concepts and styles within this boundary will make everything less repetitive, adding to the uniqueness of the group.
I.N (singer/songwriter, Stray Kids member): I wouldn’t say this is the only way to success. I believe the most important thing is consistently working on improving your abilities. Without personal improvement, it will be difficult to succeed on larger scales.
Rodriguez: Every new project begins with the music. Music drives creativity. The instrumentation, the tempo, the lyrics, the concept of the song, this is what drives the vision. So, for us, it’s not "throwing something at the wall," but rather a creative process that brings a vision to life, which is then executed musically and visually and brought to the masses.
Why do you think there is such a focus in finding "the next generation" of K-pop, even though many artists thrive through multiple of them?
Mina (singer/songwriter, TWICE member): Each generation has their own trends and characteristics, so I think people divide them because they want to remember and cherish each specific generation by their own color. For "the next generation" people will want to do the same.
Jihyo (singer/songwriter, TWICE member): We would love to see everyone enjoying our music without too much focus on which generation it is.
Rodriguez: One view of looking at the generations of music is looking at an artist from their debut through various points of their career. From a company perspective, we are always looking at artists’ development, which is something that U.S. labels often don’t do anymore. We invest in talent, we invest in people, and we give them an opportunity to become the best they can be and achieve their dreams in the hopes that they will become leaders of that next generation.
Where do you think K-pop is headed in the next few years?
Jeongyeon (singer/songwriter, TWICE member): Nowadays, all K-pop acts are beautiful and talented, so I think it would be great if we could see more music and concepts that suit their age.
Tzuyu (singer/songwriter, TWICE member): I'd like to see more collaborations between artists, because I think it's a very unexpected, fun element.
Vince: We don’t call pop music from America "American pop", we just call it "pop." I think music is going to lose its regional borders and music from anywhere will eventually be able to be called just "pop" as long as it’s a hit record. The lines will be blurred and, eventually, names like K-pop, Latin Pop, Afropop will just become "pop."
Cho: K-pop is at a crucial time for the next evolution. It’s hard to predict what’s next, but what I suspect to see is "k-Pop," where "K" is less emphasized than "pop." There will be more hybrid formats of music coming out, and I hope that the K-pop industry can be a leader in this field.
Wonderkid: K-pop will maintain its appeal because it’s on a solid foundation that has been built up over a long period of time. K-pop has been developed in Korea, but will be adopted in multiple countries. It is already happening, young listeners around the world will aspire to be K-pop artists as they grow up. Not all of them will be able to audition and train in Korea, and each country will develop their own versions of K-pop. That will give birth to new music and culture, just as hip hop and rock have influenced the music industry across the globe.
Seungmin (singer/songwriter, Stray Kids member): I do hope that we, Stray Kids, will be at the forefront, leading the way. It’s difficult to imagine what it would be like as the world is changing at a very fast rate, but I’m looking forward to seeing a more futuristic side of K-pop.
Rodriguez: As excited as I am about the many successes that we have had within SM, and the many successes the genre has been able to celebrate in recent years, I firmly believe that we are just getting started. We are at a place where everybody knows that K-pop is here to stay as an important part of pop culture. I know we will continue to see more and more artists from this genre influencing the culture of music globally.
Photo: The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images
TXT, Blackpink, Aespa & More: Here Are All The K-Pop Tours And Events You Can Catch This Summer
Whether you want to put your Head in the Clouds, free yourself at Outside Lands or be (re)born pink, plan out your summer with these K-pop events and tours in mind.
2023 started off strong for K-pop events in the U.S. Household names like NCT 127, Kang Daniel, and Stray Kids all toured the country, while the Empire State Building was lit up in honor of TWICE's latest EP, Ready to Be. In April, BLACKPINK made history as the first K-pop group to headline Coachella, while BTS' Suga (under the alias Agust D) began his first solo tour — the first out of all BTS members.
As summer starts to bloom, so do even more tours, festivals and conventions for lovers of Korean music and culture to rejoice. From mid-May to the end of August, almost every week will be busy with affairs that range from concerts by rising groups like WEi, to weekend-long celebrations like KCON, to trailblazing performances like Tomorrow X Together (TXT) headlining Lollapalooza, or aespa becoming the first K-pop group to play at New York’s Governors Ball.
To add some color to your summer, GRAMMY.com assembled a list of all the K-pop concerts and events happening in the next few months so you can enjoy the season at its fullest.
Suga: Agust D Tour
April 26 - May 17
The first BTS member to headline his own solo tour, Suga kicked off a string of performances in the U.S. on April 26 in Belmont Park, New York. The setlist included hits from his two mixtapes, August D and D-2, new tracks from his first solo studio album, D-Day, and even some BTS classics. Before heading to the Asian leg of the tour, Suga will play in Los Angeles and in Oakland, California.
Head in the Clouds Festival
Forest Hills, New York
88rising continues its mission of spreading the talents of Asian diaspora artists through their Head in the Clouds Festival. In addition to their usual Los Angeles edition, 2023 sees Head in the Clouds Festival expand to New York for the first time. The lineup includes returning acts such as DPR IAN and DPR LIVE, while K-pop sensation ITZY, global girl group XG, and rising rockstar LØREN will make their HITC debuts.
Tomorrow X Together (TXT): ACT : SWEET MIRAGE World Tour
Dazzling boy group Tomorrow X Together (TXT) grow bigger with each new release and their international tours follow suit. After last year’s ACT : LOVESICK, they return for a six-city stint in the U.S. with ACT : SWEET MIRAGE, kicking it off on May 5 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Members Soobin, Yeonjun, Beomgyu, Taehyun, and Huening Kai perform hits like "0x1=LOVESONG (I Know I Loved You)," "Good Boy Gone Bad" and their latest single, "Sugar Rush Ride."
MAMAMOO: MY CON World Tour
May 16 - June 4
Vocal queens MAMAMOO will soon begin their first-ever U.S. tour. Hwasa, Solar, Moonbyul, and Wheein are set to perform in nine cities, starting with New York on May 16 and ending in Los Angeles on June 4. With almost a decade of classics under their belts, the quartet will likely perform songs such as "Um Oh Ah Yeh," solo songs by each member, and a slew of hits like "HIP" and "Egotistic."
WEi: PASSION World Tour
Boy group WEi also returns to the U.S. for their second world tour, PASSION. Each of its six members — Daehyeon, Donghan, Yongha, Yohan, Seokhwa, and Junseo — are known for competing in different survival shows, with Yohan finishing in first place on Mnet’s "Produce X 101" in 2019. Although Yohan himself will be absent from this tour due to conflicting schedules, the remaining quintet promises to have a blast from coast to coast.
Bang Yongguk: The Colors of Bang Yongguk US Tour
May 31 - June 16
As a singer/songwriter, record producer, and former leader of boy group B.A.P, Bang Yongguk is one of K-pop’s most wide-ranging artists. Through honest lyrics and a voice deeper than the Mariana Trench, Yongguk’s work is immediately identifiable and always innovative. After releasing a brand new album this month, The Colors of Love, he is set to perform 10 concerts across the U.S., beginning in Joliet, Illinois on May 31.
TRI.BE: 2023 USA Tour VIDA LOCA
June 6 - July 3
Girl group TRI.BE have graced K-pop with effervescent singles and boundless energy since 2021, when they debuted with "Doom Doom Ta." This year, members Songsun, Kelly, Jinha, Hyunbin, Jia, Soeun, and Mire will embark on their first U.S. tour. The septet will play a massive round of 17 shows throughout the country, starting in Orlando, Florida and concluding in L.A.
aespa: Governors Ball Music Festival
In less than three years since their debut, aespa are already making history. The quartet — formed by Karina, Giselle, Winter, and Ningning — will be the first K-pop group to perform at NYC outdoor festival Governors Ball, held June 9-11. SM Entertainment’s latest girl group became known for their AI-filled lore that includes avatars and an avant-garde sound in the likes of popular singles "Next Level” and “Savage."
TWICE: 5th World Tour Ready to Be
June 10 - July 9
Unrelenting girl group TWICE return to the U.S. for their 5th World Tour Ready to Be. Named after their latest album, the performances will feature hits from their 8-year spanning discography, as well as solo performances from each of its nine members. After performances in Asia and Australia, they will kick off a 13-stop North American leg of the tour at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on June 10, and wrap it up at Truist Park in Atlanta on July 9.
CRAVITY: The First World Tour Masterpiece
Last year, rising boy group CRAVITY toured the U.S. as one of the representatives of KCON 2022 Rookies — a series of concerts organized by the All Things Hallyu festival with up-and-coming names in the industry. In 2023, the nine-member group are proving their growth as they headline their own tour through New York, Chicago, San Juan, Atlanta, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
JUST B: Otakon
Held in Washington, D.C., Otakon is the place to be for lovers of Asian pop culture. After bringing names like AleXa and PIXY last year, this year’s edition of the festival will bring rookie boy group JUST B — Lim Jimin, Geonu, Bain, JM, DY, and Sangwoo — for a performance and some VIP experiences to get to know them better.
Lee Youngji K-PLAY! FEST
San Mateo, California
Rapper Lee Youngji rose to fame by being the first woman to win survival shows "High School Rapper 3" and "Show Me the Money 11." However, she gathered an even bigger fandom through the YouTube variety show "My Alcohol Diary," where she invites other K-pop idols to her home for drinks and hilarious conversations. On July 30, she will headline the Bay Area edition of K-PLAY! FEST, the "first ever K-pop festival for fans, by fans." Besides spitting fiery bars, she will also do a hi-touch event, a fansign, and take some selfies with fans who purchase VIP packages.
Tomorrow X Together, NewJeans, DRP IAN, DPR LIVE: Lollapalooza
After last year’s success with performances from Tomorrow x Together and BTS’ j-hope, the Lolla 2023 features even more K-pop. For the first time in history, TXT will headline the festival on August 5, while fellow labelmates and current sensation NewJeans will perform on Thursday, August 3. DPR IAN, 6 and DPR LIVE bring their R&B, rock, and rap fusion to the last day of the festival on Sunday.
(G)I-dle: I am FREE-TY World Tour
K-pop’s resident tomboys will bring their flair and authenticity stateside. After last year’s Just Me ( )I-dle World Tour, the quintet formed by Soyeon, Miyeon, Minnie, Yuqi, and Shuhua will perform in six cities throughout the first half of August. In addition to their attitude-filled setlist, fans can expect new songs from their upcoming sixth EP, I Feel.
Head in the Clouds Festival
After their New York edition in May, HITC heads to the West Coast for another weekend celebrating Asian talents. While the lineup is yet to be announced, fans can expect it to hold some of the names who performed in past editions, as well as exciting newcomers. HITC will happen at Brookside at the Rose Bowl on Aug. 5 and 6.
BLACKPINK: BORN PINK World Tour
Headlining Coachella in April wasn’t enough for the unstoppable girl group BLACKPINK. Jennie, Rosé, Lisa, and Jisoo have just announced four stadium concerts in August as an extension of their ongoing BORN PINK World Tour, which also included U.S. dates in 2022. The quartet will perform at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on Aug. 12, then follow to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Oracle Park in San Francisco, and wrap it up at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Aug. 26.
aespa: Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival
Once again, the groundbreaking aespa hit the U.S. for another milestone: they will be the first K-pop group to perform at San Francisco’s Outside Lands. The quartet will play their futuristic set on Friday, August 11, along Kendrick Lamar, Janelle Monaé and WILLOW, among others.
Known as the largest Korean culture and music festival in North America, KCON has a decade-long legacy of serving as a bridge for "all things Hallyu." Held at the Los Angeles Convention Center and Crypto.com Arena, the festival includes a two-night concert, fan signings, food and merch stalls, panels with professionals in the industry, and many other attractions. KCON hasn’t announced its official lineup yet, but attendees can expect it to maintain the same excellence of past years.
Photo: Courtesy of JYP Entertainment
TWICE Detail Their "Absolutely Magical" Growth And How 'Between 1&2' Expands On Their Relationship With Fans
With their eleventh mini album, 'Between 1&2,' TWICE aim to continue growing their artistry by both pushing genre boundaries and connecting even deeper with ONCE.
Since TWICE released their first EP in 2015, they have had a way of uplifting people through their music. The K-pop girl group has taken the world by storm with hit after hit — including"Fancy," "Feel Special," and "I Can't Stop Me" — and now, they're ready to enter a new era.
On Aug. 26, TWICE will release their eleventh mini album, Between 1 & 2. The project sonically takes inspiration from the early 2000s (as evidenced by the upcoming single they're teasing, "Talk that Talk"), but overall presents a theme of connecting TWICE with their fans, ONCE — hence the project's numerical title.
Though TWICE has long been breaking barriers for female groups worldwide, the past 18 months have arguably been their most impactful to date. Earlier this year, they brought the Twice 4th World Tour "III" to the U.S., playing nine sold-out shows that saw over 100,000 attendees and made them the first K-pop girl group to hold stadium shows in North America (and only the second in K-pop history after BTS). Before that, their 2021 releases, the mini album Taste of Love and the Korean album Formula of Love: O+T=<3, earned TWICE their first top 10 projects on the Billboard 200.
They look to expand on that success with Between 1&2, which comes just one month after TWICE released their fourth Japanese studio album, Celebrate, and two months after Nayeon's solo debut with the EP I'M NAYEON. As they continue to mature their sound and grow their fan base, the women of TWICE are also proving that they're powerful as both individuals and a unit — and that their star power is only on the rise.
GRAMMY.com caught up with TWICE's nine members — Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung, and Tzuyu — ahead of the EP release to discuss this new chapter of their careers, preparing for Between 1 & 2, and what their impact means to them.
First off, you guys recently renewed your contracts with JYP. That's a big milestone. What are you excited about going forward as a group? What does being in this group mean to you?
Jihyo: We didn't realize that all members have renewed their contracts until right before the official announcement. We wanted to share this incredible news with our fans as soon as possible because our fans are the main reason why we all decided to renew our contracts with JYP.
We are excited to explore what new styles of music and concepts we can bring to the table and are looking forward to the increase in our members' musical contributions to the albums. Being a member of TWICE means having life-long friends and family. The sense of belonging will forever remain with us.
Nayeon was recently the first member to go solo, and you mentioned that your band members helped make important decisions. Can we expect more solo projects from the rest of the group in the future? What was it like preparing something to perform on your own?
Nayeon: I felt a lot of responsibility by being the first member to launch a solo project. Even though I'M NAYEON was a solo project with my name literally written in the album title, I knew that I'm not only representing myself through this album, but also representing TWICE. Therefore, I felt the obligation to pave a clean, smooth pathway for other members who might be thinking of releasing a solo album in the future. Along my journey as a solo artist, all members of TWICE made sure to take the burden off my shoulders by being supportive and giving me important feedback when I needed their opinions.
For this new mini album, Between 1&2, what can fans expect the overall vibe and sound to be like? Did you try anything new?
Jeongyeon: There are total seven tracks in this album, and all tracks sound different from each other. We are exploring different genres such as pop, dance, ballad, and rock, so you can expect a variety of styles in this album.
We have incorporated retro vibes into the album, since one of the concepts of the album is Y2K. The tracks that embody the retro concept the most are "Talk that Talk" and "Brave." Even though the styles are different, the tracks are connected under the theme of "the conversation between ONCE and TWICE," like how the album title Between 1&2 implies.
What did you guys most enjoy about preparing this mini album? Is there anything the fans should look out for?
Dahyun: I enjoyed writing lyrics for the two tracks "Gone" and "When We Were Kids." As our time as TWICE members grow, the members' participation in the album is increasing, which shows how we are growing as artists each year. You can look out for CHAEYOUNG's lyrics in the song "Basics," and JIHYO's music and lyrics in the song "Trouble."
Do you guys have a song you enjoy the most from this album?
Chaeyoung: I personally love "Basics" for [a] very obvious reason: I wrote the lyrics myself. "Basics" is a fast-paced dance song about the need to put importance in the basics of love by getting to know each other slowly, instead of diving straight into a relationship.
For the upcoming music video, can you explain the concept or theme? How does it relate to "Talk that Talk"?
Dahyun: The music video is about TWICE members looking for codes and investigating the mission of confessing our love to our fans, ONCE. With the concept Y2K trending, you can find fragments of Y2K-themed images and styles within the music video. This concept relates to "Talk that Talk," since the melody is in an addictive retro pop/dance style that reminds you of the year 2000.
Jeongyeon: Also, the lyrics of "Talk that Talk" are about trying to get the other person to say everything on his/her mind, which relates to the theme of the music video, where TWICE undergoes the mission to make ONCE say "I LOVE YOU" to TWICE.
You're one of the top girl groups in the world right now. That can come with a lot of pressure, but why do you think TWICE has been so successful over the years? What do you think draws listeners in?
Mina: I believe the unique point of TWICE is that we are always true to our music style. Even though we've tried different concepts and genres over the last years, our music has that power of making the listeners realize that they are listening to TWICE's song. I think [that's] what attracts listeners to our music and our group.
How have you guys grown as a group over the years? Is there anything you want to change going forward?
Mina: Looking back at ourselves since the debut, I noticed that our members' album contributions have grown significantly. It started out with writing lyrics, but now, our members are capable of composing and vocal directing, too.
Momo: The growth of TWICE is absolutely magical, but I also want to focus on the growth of our fans. We've heard that our songs bring back the memories of significant events relating to a certain era of a person's life. I love how fans say that our songs remind them of a time and place when they were listening to the song. This relationship between our music and our fans' memories is something that I want to keep on building going forward.
Is there anything you've enjoyed doing this year outside of music promotions? Any new hobbies?
Tzuyu: With the opening of our individual Instagram accounts, we've been able to share our personal lives with our fans. Recently, I've had a delicious meal with CHAEYOUNG and posted a photo taken by her on my Instagram, which fans loved.
I'm also trying to find new hobbies by taking one-day classes with DAHYUN. We recently made cute potteries and enjoyed every single moment of it. I want to try leather crafting next.
Do you have any new goals for the rest of this year?
Sana: I hope all our members can stay healthy, both physically and mentally. The well-being of all nine members is crucial to all of us, as we are so closely connected and are basically a family. We will continue to take good care of ourselves, as well as other members' to spread the bright energy of TWICE to ONCE all around the world.