As many of you may know, Korean winters are pretty brutal. With temperatures dropping below 0 degrees Celsius, gusts of cold wind and streets covered in ice and snow, keeping warm are quite the mission.
This is completely different from the summer norms of having a handheld fan in one hand and an iced drink in the other to cool down, and although the cold might now bother some of us, many may wonder how we can stay warm while exploring South Korea during this chilly winter season.
While this is largely a fashion trend, it is also 100% necessary when enduring Korean winter. Long puffer jackets will keep you warm and toasty from head to knee, allowing you to freely explore the streets of Korea. These jackets, while very big and bulky, are a complete essential during the winter months in Korea.
Like an onion, layering up is super key to surviving Korean winter. During the winter months, it’s no secret that the temperatures are incredibly low, so layers are sure to keep you cozy. Ideally, you would have around three layers of clothing. On the outer layer, you would wear your long puffer jacket, and underneath would be a hoodie, sweater, jumper or anything you would wear if it was just a bit chilly and a t-shirt just won’t cut it. For the innermost layer, wear something like a simple t-shirt, or if it’s super cold, you can opt for something like heattech.
Layering is super important, as many stores and restaurants love to crank up their heaters to keep guests out of the cold, so when you walk indoors, you can simply peel off pieces of clothing and put them back on when reentering the cold outdoors. Wearing a t-shirt under all those layers not only prevents you from overheating when indoors, but can also cut down on the laundry. Bigger items such as hoodies and sweaters take a lot longer to dry, so if you’re moving around a lot during your stay in Korea, you can stick to just washing your t-shirts regularly since your hoodie or sweater is just an outer garment.
Sometimes, layering up like an onion and wearing a long puffer jacket just isn’t enough. Hot packs are little bundles of instant toasty warmth, and can be purchased from literally and convenience store in Korea. Your hands will probably get super cold, so clutching onto these hot packs or simply leaving them in your pockets is sure to warm you right up.
Again, like the long puffer jackets, these are not a mere fashion accessory. When the wind picks up, the cold gust of wind can often be painful for more sensitive skin like your face. These will shield your face from the cold and harsh winds, and prevent redness on your face from the cold.
Winters in Korea are incredibly drying, so it is super important to be constantly applying and reapplying lotion and chapstick. Having moisturized skin makes the cold a lot more tolerable, and we surely don’t want all that Korean skincare to go to waste!
Korean winter, while incredibly cold, is an amazing experience! Just imagine walking down the busy streets of Myeongdong with snow falling and your favorite K-pop group’s song faintly playing in the background while you hold toasty street food in your hands…
What are your tips for surviving winter in Korea? Let us know in the comments!
Newtro (뉴트로), meaning new plus retro, is a trend that has recently taken off in the past couple of months. Retro can refer to as far back as the 1920s or as recent as the 1990s. No matter the era, it is all about adding a twist to the old. The newtro style appears in Korean fashion and music. Here are some examples of newtro in both!
Reminiscent of the ’90s, chunky shoes are back in fashion. The chunkier, the better! The newtro trend allowed for brands to experiment. Fila and Adidas are popular brands when it comes to chunky shoes (Fila released older styles from the ’70s), the the perfect shoes for a newtro look. The official Adidas website describes a pair as “inspired by the ’90s with a futuristic design.” That is the essence of newtro!
HyunA is no stranger to retro looks. She has rocked perms, cowboy boots, and of course, chunky shoes! The shoes and the neon pink socks might seem strange, but it works! Newtro is about experimentation, and HyunA isn’t scared to add colorful twists to her outfits.
Whether it’s a dad jacket or windbreaker, as long as it’s oversized it will do. Cardigans even count, too! The oversized jacket trend stems from the ’80s and ’90s. Pro-Specs specializes in newtro clothing, showing how a simple oversized windbreaker can make your outfit both retro and avant garde!
We’re not talking about hanboks! Aside from those traditional dresses, in Korea, some shops rent out dresses styled after 1920s fashion. This trend started after the popularity of the drama Mr. Sunshine, and has continued in growth thanks to Hotel del Luna, which was released in 2019. Ikseon-dong in Seoul has become the center for newtro, hosting a variety of these stores.
There’s no better example for traditional dresses than Ji-eun Lee! She was the lead actress in Hotel del Luna, and throughout the show, she wore many different retro outfits.
Newtro in Music:
D.I.A – Newtro Album
D.I.A released a mini-album based on newtro and even named it after the trend. The music video of their lead single “Woowa” starts with a jukebox, one of the most iconic retro symbols, and doesn’t just stop there! The concept photos of the album feature roller skates, paper hats, and disco balls. The visuals are retro but the song is a mix of synths, futuristic in contrast. It’s the best of both worlds!
YUKIKA – Neon
YUKIKA’s song sounds much like Japanese pop in the ‘80s, also known as city-pop. This type of music is a mixture of funk, disco, and jazz. She gives this genre a new life. Most prominent city-pop songs were released in the ’80s, but her single was a new song to add to the playlist. The music video also sports classic eighties iconography like a sparkly skirt, perms, and of course, neon lights.
Rothy – Bee
Rothy’s song is a blend of R&B and techno beats. Throughout the music video, Rothy wears outfits that include colorful hair clips and the occasional oversized sweater. The sets are also retro, featuring a sewing room, laundry mat, and a record store. Although, it also features modern things, like Instagram. It’s like the ’90s took place in now! If you want to experience nostalgia for the nineties, then this is the video for you.
Newtro allows for people to experience the past with a twist. Are there any trends you want to try? Tell us below!
Cover Image: Rothy (Stone Music Entertainment) Written by Stephanie Lemus
Whether you know him as “Kevin” from the K-pop boy group U-KISS or as an After School Club host, Kevin Woo has become a household name for fans of K-pop as he has been in the industry since he was just fifteen years old. At that time, he moved from his home in California to Seoul, Korea. Today, he transitions from boy group member and TV host to actor and solo artist. Recently, we caught up with Kevin to talk about his schedule of events, Asian-American representation in media and pop, and more!
This summer, you went to KCON, both LA and New York. So, you’re no stranger to KCON, but this was your first time performing as a solo artist. How was your experience?
The experience was surreal. It was one of the best moments of my life because I never performed at such a big venue before as a solo artist. It’s just great to perform my songs, and be a part of the whole KCON experience because that’s such a rare chance and an honour.
You just wrapped up your tour with James Lee (former member of Royal Pirates) and FYKE. That’s a really great group of people. Was there a funny moment or favourite memory?
Definitely, because we’re all good buddies. This whole tour came about because of James … We all knew each other so it just felt like a natural chemistry between us three artists.
Woo shared with us special moments he observed from his time on tour, specifically with Enik. He explained that the FYKE leader was new to K-Pop fan culture, unlike Woo and Lee, and was adapting differently than one might expect.
He [Enik Lin] really talked with them one-on-one. We didn’t really have enough time to do that, but he was just talking about life experiences and messages to the fans while everyone was waiting in line. That was such a humbling experience for me because I am kind of used to that culture, but he hasn’t experienced the K-pop fan culture before. He was just taking all the time of his life, but I really learned from that, and I want to connect with the fans even more … I thought that was a very sweet moment.
Also, the shows were in your home state of California. Did that give any opportunity to take a break, maybe visit with family and friends?
Yeah, definitely! When I was in L.A., I got to take time with my friends. They took me out to Universal Studios. That was such a good experience because I never got to do that when I was a little kid. After KCON and the concert, we went to the amusement park and they showed me around, and it kind of gave me a new perspective in just enjoying life because back in Asia it’s hard to connect with friends and just go out. In Asia, it’s harder to go out because you are more noticed, but here, it’s more free. When my friends took me out to the amusement park, I felt like a little kid again and it felt great, so I enjoyed my time back at home.
Do you have a favourite ride or attraction from one of the parks?
Oh my god, yeah! At Universal Studios … the Harry Potter Land, I’ve been dying to go there, and I had the time of my life. I put it up on my social media, and my fans were going crazy seeing that I was freaking out over that, too. They were like experiencing that whole experience through me.
You’ve also been releasing travel vlogs this year, as well as song covers. A lot of K-pop idols have started becoming YouTubers. Do you think you will as well?
Oh, definitely! I’m like the second-generation of K-pop. We were more mysterious — we didn’t reveal our private lives.
And, now, today, it’s like a “share everything” expectation because of social media.
You guys like to be a part of our personal life. I wasn’t used to that at first. It did take me awhile to break down that wall, but now that I’ve started vlogging, I think it’s so easy and great to show a part of my personal life to my fans because it reaches a better engagement. Recently, I started vlogging throughout my travels around Asia and America, and they want to see more of it, so I think I will be doing more of those in the future. My fans can look forward to it! More personal stuff on my channel.
Recently, you had your U.S. TV debut on Good Day LA. How was that?
Yeah! That was like a dream come true. It was really hard to grasp at first because I didn’t know K-pop was that big. Being a Korean-American, growing up watching American TV, it was very unreal for me to be on that stage and represent Asian-Americans on national television. When I did that stage, I felt very proud for what I did in K-pop, and I feel like K-pop is just growing on such a global scale. It’s a good time to be a part of K-pop right now.
As you were talking about just now, you ended up moving to Korea for a career in K-pop, but now that you’re making your transition as a solo artist, what direction do you see yourself going towards? What market do you hope to reach?
Right now, I’m sure most of my fans knew me from K-pop … but as an Asian-American, I feel like it was always a dream, a goal of mine, to represent Asians in America. I definitely have a bigger goal, not just in the K-pop realm, but in pop. I hope to be the bridge between the two worlds.
Do you have a favourite Korean food or snack? If someone is being introduced to Korean food by you, what would you give them?
I don’t know if it’s legit Korean, but I want to recommend Shin Ramyun. That’s like the go-to noodles for every Korean, whether they’re in Korea or abroad. It’s the most basic one, but that’s the one I eat all the time. It’s not that spicy. Anyone should try it out.
Do you have a current favourite song?
I’m really into NCT 127. There’s a song called “Highway to Heaven.” That’s a really good song. I feel like that portrays both pop and K-pop equally in the same genre … I really like that.
That’s a good choice! I was somewhere the other day and they were playing it on American radio!
Oh my god. That’s crazy. MONSTA X are blowing up in America right now. Their collab with French Montana, “Who Do You Love?,” that’s a great song! I feel better in K-pop seeing my junior groups—like groups that have debuted before me—do so well in the States. I’m so proud of them. I feel like there’s no limit to K-pop because we’re just expanding more and more in the U.S., and that’s my goal as a solo artist as well. I know that my fans and future audiences will get a glimpse of that in the near future from me.
Although it’s been a busy year for MONSTA X, having released studio album We are Here, Japanese studio album Phenomenon, and a world tour; that didn’t stop the group from dropping this year’s latest mini album, Follow-Find You.
The mini album takes you on a ride of emotions from start to finish, no two songs are alike. It starts off with “Find You,” a slow track that talks about remembering certain aspects of someone in a past relationship. Its lyrics leave one to think that although the relationship didn’t last, there still might be some sort of feelings for the other person.
In my memories, you are like a dream I wish to bring back
Spicing up the album after “Find You” is the electronic “Follow,” which is about a path that can’t seem to be crossed, though one person still follows the other. MONSTA X then takes a different turn with “Monsta Truck” — a mix of keyboard notes, soothing vocals, and grunting raps that make you wonder what other surprises the group has in store for the album. However, before you know it, “U R” comes up next to slow things back down. With the plucking of guitar strings, the slight jingle of a tambourine and slow vocals, we are reminded of how much a versatile group MONSTA X is.
The beat of “Disaster” can be compared to that of a hip-hop song from the ‘80s as rapper Jooheon’s adlibs get you excited for this bass-filled track. “Burn it Up” keeps things alive as a darker track filled with powerful vocals. With feisty lyrics like “I can tell you I’m on fire, I burn it up,” it will push your confidence and not let you forget who you are. “Mirror” has a seductive twist in what started off as a duo between vocalist Wonho and leader Shownu during the We Are Here 2019 tour. It’s made its appearance permanent on this album with the whole group joining in.
To end the album is “See You Again,” a mix of upbeat instrumentals with deep lyrics talking about the coldness of saying goodbye and not wanting the relationship to end, even though what might have felt good it wasn’t good.
Follow-Find You talks about the reality of heartbreak and the different emotions one goes through from wanting them back to knowing your worth, and finally accepting the fate of things. MONSTA X saves you from the pain of having to physically go through the experiences attached to those emotions with this album.
What’s your favorite song off of Follow-Find You? Make sure to let us know in the comments below!
Cover Image: MONSTA X (Starship Entertainment) Written by Briseida Rivera
Sometimes all we need is some ramen to help us get through life, but how do we know which ramen is right for us? It can be hard to sift through all the different types of noodles if you’re unfamiliar, so we’ve made it easier for you by creating a quiz to help you narrow down your perfect ramen match!
On August 26, 2019, Knoxville, Tennessee’s sixth annual Asian Festival took place. This free admission festival was started by the nonprofit Asian Culture of TN back in 2014 to showcase the Asian culture. Executive director Kumi Alderman does a lot for the Asian community in Knoxville and surrounding cities. While 3,000 people attended the first event, 2018’s festival drew in 40,000 people to its small location right in the heart of downtown! In 2019, it was moved to the World’s Fair site, which accommodated three acres of activities.
Every year the festival represents many Asian countries through booths, traditional performances, activities, food, and much more. Some of the countries include Korea, Japan, China, India, Philippines, Thailand, Laos, and many more. There were also K-pop and J-pop performances along with a cosplay contest.
To kick off the festival, a parade of countries takes place. Each country holds either banners that say where they are from or their country’s flag. Many participants also wear traditional clothing and stay in them throughout the whole festival. This year’s parade ended at the amphitheater where each country walked up on stage and introduced themselves along with how to say hello in their language.
I stopped by the Korean booth, where a former language teacher of mine was volunteering. The booth had grown bigger than past years. When you first walk up, there were framed paintings that represented Korea. One table featured many traditional Korean drums, masks, and other unique items. Also displayed was the Korean flag. Another table featured pictures and books remembering the Korean War Veterans. There were also brochures and magazines on Korea for purchase. You could also try on a traditional hanbok. The last table in the area had face painting and two traditional games festival goers could play. My brother played Tuho (투호) a few times.
There were many traditional food vendors to choose from. You could find traditional Korean food throughout the food park.
Dragon Cupbop is a Korean food truck that sells Korean noodles that come with rice and lettuce, and you can choose from five different toppings and four different sauces. Tomo Restaurant sold Korean tacos, kimchi fries, bulgogi egg rolls, and more!
On the long list of performances spanning from two stages, there were a few Korean performers and K-pop performers, including traditional Korean percussionists!
Kascade, University of Tennessee’s first and only K-pop dance group, performed snippets of dances from a few K-pop songs: Twice’s “Dance The Night Away,” B.A.P’s “Feels So Good,” FROMIS_9’s “FUN!,” and ITZY’s “ICY.” K-pop was in full force throughout the whole festival!
The Knoxville Asian Festival has shed light on Asian cultures over the years, not only creating fun for all ages, but educating people as well. It is safe to say that this festival will only grow more and more each year and feature even more activities and performances as it brings people together from all different backgrounds and everyone has a great time!
Would you want to come to this festival? Next year’s festival will take place in August 2020! What activities would you want to check out first?
Entropy is defined as a slow decline into chaos, and the band’s latest single, “Sweet Chaos,” takes this theme literally with the use of reversals in the beginning of the song. Along with a rift and beat that seem to take inspiration from swing, their passion can be heard loud and clear. This song is chaotic like a storm blowing everything away. It’s powerful and akin to an unstoppable force. Much like the process of entropy, the black-and-white “Sweet Chaos” music video shifts into color halfway through, and slowly adds more effects to distort everything around the group and eventually the band members themselves.
Following infatuation and also the decline of a relationship, The Book of Us: Entropy features songs such as “Emergency” and “Deep In Love” that make the chaos sweet, both of which talking about falling in love and the need to see someone you like. “Emergency” has a sound reminiscent of disco and pop, riddled with fun wordplay while “Deep In Love” goes all in with its classic rock. These songs will make you fall in love with Entropy!
The album takes a darker turn around the fourth song with “Rescue Me” and “365247.” Both explore obsession, “Rescue Me” with a rock song that grows gradually and “365247” with an upbeat dance sound. There’s also “About Now,” a soft track that you can imagine playing at a cafe. As soft as it sounds, it’s about worrying if your partner misses you as much as you miss them. It’s a small foreshadow what is yet to come.
Next is “OUCH,” a Latin-inspired song about not meeting your partner’s expectations. “Not Fine,” “Stop Talking,” and “Not Mine” all build off of each other and showcase what can happen during the end of a relationship. “Not Fine” is softer than the other songs the album, emphasising nostalgia. “Stop Talking” is the metaphorical breaking point of this relationship. It’s lyrics are harsher compared to the other songs on the album while “Not Mine” once again dives into the mellow side of things.
To wrap-up the album, “Like a flowing wind,” a ballad worthy of a drama, might make you shed a couple of tears. DAY6 shows off not only their musical versatility with The Book of Us: Entropy, but also their ability to capture different moments of life genuinely. Their third full-length album captures Entropy in its fullest and is definitely worth a listen.
What’s your favorite song from Entropy? Tell us in the comments below!
Cover Image: DAY6 (JYP Entertainment) Written by Stephanie Lemus
There it is, the famous natural sweet and sticky liquid — honey! Mixing the clear, golden amber into anything makes it taste like heaven, and if you decide to take more than a spoonful, be careful — you might turn into Winnie The Pooh! Hopefully, you won’t be tempted to eat a whole jar of it, as it can be very useful in small amounts. Honey has been used as a remedy for the common cold, as well as a great substitute for sugar. Giving the foods a richer, more profound taste, honey has been often used in Korean cuisine, especially for making desserts and snacks. From traditional to modern favorites, let’s take a look at some of them now!
Gangjeong (강정), like most traditional Korean desserts, is the kind of sweet snack to be served during important events such as weddings, ancestral rites and Korean New Year celebrations. It is a traditional Korean sweet dessert made with glutinous rice flour. This deep-fried “rice puff” is often made with beans, nuts, seeds, spices, nutty grains and other ingredients. It has a shiny surface because of the honey sticking everything together, and because you can decide what you want to put in it, it’s possible to create your own design and turn it into a pretty gift.
Hangwa (한과) is a general term for traditional Korean confections, thus making yakgwa (약과) a type of deep-fried, wheat-based hangwa made with honey, rice wine, sesame oil and ginger juice. The yak (약) in yakgwa means “medicine,” because in the past Koreans considered honey to be medicinal. Traditionally, the sweet was offered during events like ancestral rites, enjoyed on festive days such as Chuseok and marriages. In pre-modern Korea, the sweet and soft yakgwa was mostly enjoyed by the upper class, but nowadays it can be found at traditional markets or supermarkets, or even served as a dessert in restaurants.
Small, squishy, soft balls of joy, either drizzled or infused with a honey syrup — who wouldn’t want to dig into that colorful sweetness? It’s a perfect snack for sugarholics and a nice dessert to enjoy with a hot cup of tea to balance out the sweetness. Usually, these rice cakes are served plain, but you can find various ones filled with sesame seeds, dusted with roasted soybean powder or sitting in a sweet honey sauce, just waiting to be devoured.
Kkul-tarae (꿀타래) is a hard dough of honey and maltose mixture which is stretched, kneaded and twisted many times into 16,384 skeins of soft-looking threads. Then, small portions of it are cut off and wrapped around an assortment of crushed candied nuts, chocolate and other fillings. It is well-known street food, a variation of Dragon’s Beard Candy. It’s easy to notice the vendors doing a little show of making the candy, some telling a story and some explaining the process, entertaining the crowd.
If you have never tried it, then you’re in for a treat. Once you open the bag, the buttery and slightly sweet aroma welcomes your senses and it truly is hard not to give in and devour the whole bag in just a few minutes. These chips are extremely addictive, unsurprisingly reaching renowned popularity in South Korea in the past few years. The youth, as always, were eager to share the tasty chips on social media, and celebrities like Sooyoung from Girls’ Generation, Siwon from Super Junior, actress So Yoo-Jin and others endorsed the snack, creating the “Honey Butter Craze.” The chips are manufactured by Haitai-Calbee and have special edition packaging and hints of flavors like maple-syrup, lavender and cherry blossom.
Born in Jeju, these chips are quite unique and a must-try for snack lovers all over the world. The tangerines, grown and dried in Jeju still smell fresh when you open the packaging. You can choose from a sweet honey butter and a yogurt coating, which makes these orange dried fruits even more appealing. It’s a perfect snack during the winter when the weather is chilly and the memory of warmth could be consumed in one bite of a crunchy tangerine.
This sticky and super crunchy honey snack is the best to munch on whenever you feel like you miss a little sweetness in your life. Created by Nongshim, which also made the same swirly flavor of honey and apple, the snack is simple and not too sweet. Some love it, some don’t mind it, so you would have to try it for yourself. Glazed with Korean acacia honey, the Honey Twists are yet another Korean snack worth checking out.
Honey is good to mend a sore throat, and an even better ingredient to make plenty of different tasty snacks and desserts. From traditional Korean desserts to modern sweet snacks, honey has always been a big part of Korean cuisine. Of course, there is no harm of eating a spoonful of just the shiny golden honey, but where’s the fun in that? Seeing all of these yummy sweets, what is the honey snack of your dreams? Share with us in the comments below!
After releasing their sixth mini-album, Happily Ever After in April, NU’EST is ready to move on to their seventh! This will be their second mini-album to be released since coming back as a five-member group in January. Like in Happily Ever After, the concept photos for The Table use a lot of warm tones, but the overall theme seems different. The warm tones in the concept photos for The Table give off a sense of familiarity as if the members are simply enjoying each other’s company.
Like with most of NU’EST’s previous albums, members were quite involved with preparing the tracks for their seventh mini-album for L.O.Λ.E. Main vocalist Baekho participated in writing lyrics and composing all of the tracks for The Table. Leader JR also participated in writing song lyrics for many of the tracks while Minhyun took part in writing lyrics for “ONE TWO THREE.” The members have certainly put in a lot of hard work and love into making The Table a success.
NU’EST starts off their latest mini album with “Call Me Back,” an easy-going song that seems to be about a confession of love. Title song “LOVE ME” gives off a happy-go-lucky vibe with catchy keyboard accompaniment and background whistling. “LOVE ME” features smooth choreography while showing reminiscent images of classic cars, retro technology, and space exploration. “ONE TWO THREE” shows influences of funk music as it’s bass guitar and keyboard chord progressions work together to tell a heart-fluttering story. “Trust Me” and “Stay Up All Night” have more serious tones as they begin to wind down the mini-album with a combination of R&B and Pop sounds. “If We” wraps up The Table with a ballad that showcases each of the member’s strong yet smooth vocals.
To provide a space where L.O.Λ.E. can come together and get excited about their new mini-album, NU’EST opened The Table 1021. This exhibition cafe is full of naturally whimsical decorations that will make you easily feel at home. Here, you can write a letter of encouragement to NU’EST while enjoying a refreshing beverage or a small peach pie. Since The Table 1021 is a cafe instead of a concept zone, 1 drink purchase is required during your visit.
The Table 1021 will be open until October 27, 2019. Time spent in the cafe is generally unlimited; however, if the cafe becomes busy, guests may need to have a ticket to enter. Ticketed reservations last fifty minutes and are limited to fifty people per time frame.
Address: 서울특별시 마포구 월드컵북로6길 88-10 (88-10, World Cup buk-ro 6-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea) Hours of Operation: 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
In order to continue building anticipation for comebacks, MWave often offers signed albums. You can either purchase your favorite concept version or score the whole set. Get your NU’EST signed albums before they’re all gone!
Which song from The Table is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
Cover Image: NU’EST (Pledis Entertainment) Written by Sarah Wong
In their first comeback since making a stellar debut with The Dream Chapter: STAR, TOMORROW X TOGETHER uses MAGIC to show that they’re more than meets the eye. Premiering powerful choreography and melodious vocals in the second installment of The Dream Chapter series, TXT returns with otherworldly visuals and a narrative fit for enchanting.
The healing power of togetherness is pushed to the forefront in “9 and Three Quarters (Run Away),” the title track of The Dream Chapter: MAGIC. Shortened to “943” by the group, it’s an adventurous synth-pop track with a galloping rock rhythm that rides lyrics from the false smiles of affected contentment to taking hold of a helping hand reaching out to give strength. The song continues to play upon the theme of the group’s comeback, especially evident in the mystical trilling melody of the hook that gives off a strong spellcasting effect and the references to magical moments in entertainment history; such as the “bibbidi-bobbidi” of Cinderella and elements in the world of Harry Potter that go beyond the title of the tune.
As skilled on their feet as they are with their voices, the mystery behind what the new choreography would be like is finally revealed. “Precise movements and raw energy is our specialty,” said Yeonjun at The Dream Chapter: MAGIC press conference on October 21, “You’ll be able to feel a tough energy. It’ll be fun if you look for parts in the choreo where we’ve expressed a tunnel or train.” Another notable move is when the five TXT members form a ticking clock in motion; once again displaying smooth line formations the group has expertly executed from the beginning as seen in the impressive star and arrow choreography from their debut single, “CROWN.”
Their high energy dance moves can be spotted in bursts in the music video for “Run Away,” where the youthful atmosphere is captured beautifully, tapping on multiple essentials in the spirit of adolescence: Listlessness? Check. School? Check. Reckless abandon? Check. Assisted by mysterious doors—some only seen truthfully through magic lenses—the group moves from classroom to underwater to forest to open field, showing they’re more powerful in numbers than alone. Each setting stands out in its own way as TXT dances through them. One scene in particular displays the group’s bouncing choreography performed in an empty swimming pool, their surroundings as blue as Yeonjun’s hair while the world outside is literally upside down.
If The Dream Chapter: STAR was TOMORROW X TOGETHER’s opportunity to prove themselves, The Dream Chapter: MAGIC is a declaration that they’re building upwards from the groundwork that’s been laid. In the seven months between their debut mini album and their first full-length studio album, including TDC: MAGIC’s two rescheduled release dates from August to September to October, they’ve emerged with even stronger vocals and an updated, yet distinct sound that shows it was all worth the wait.
The Dream Chapter: MAGIC continues where the first album left off, navigating through the maze of adolescence that’s sometimes dark and twisted. At their Oct. 21 press conference, TXT leader Soobin explained that the album “contains a story like magic that comes about by being together with friends” It’s a tale the group can relate to at their ages, between 17 and 20, and that hasn’t gone missed by the members as they express their own connection to the message. “I find solace and am comforted that I too have met members with the same dream,” said Taehyun at the conference, “When I’m with the members, I am able to do things that seemed impossible if I’m alone.”
Rather than straying far off the path of the multigenre-infused pop music established in TDC: STAR, there’s an organic development to showcase TXT’s growth in both appearance and vibe. It’s a smart move to make, allowing them to explore and incorporate new beats, rhythms, and genres while at the same time building a recognizable foundation for their discography. The influence of R&B, hip-hop, jazz, house and other EDM varieties, and the new jack swing style of the 1980s-1990s is still ever-present in the group’s musical backbone, presenting an element of nostalgia mixed with modern forward-motion as it all blends together.
TOMORROW X TOGETHER may have the benefit of standing out from the rest of the pack as many acts have adopted darker, heavy-hitting concepts this season, but don’t be fooled—TXT’s concept is also taking a deeper dive into the dark as they mature; however, their approach is measured differently. “Run Away” has a more escapist, near-desperate sound than “CROWN,” though both songs tackle topics of loneliness and finding one’s way, showing that the initial brightness introduced at debut could possibly be dimming slowly as the story the group is telling continues to unfold. Still, the good energy of TXT remains true-to-form, even through the progression of songs on their latest album.
“New Rules,” an alternative punk track with hip-hop elements, opens The Dream Chapter: MAGIC with sirens and a wish to create new rules in the world. The song features energetic choreography that was first premiered during the TOMORROW X TOGETHER Welcome Back Show on Mnet along with stages for “Run Away,” “20cm,” and “Angel Or Devil.” It effectively sets the tone for one of the group’s major goals, which seems to be making space for themselves on their own terms. As the youngest member of the team, Hueningkai, has a producing credit on TDC: MAGIC by way of “Roller Coaster,” they’re already steaming ahead on that promise.
Holding a beat reminiscent to the opening of “Poison” by Bell Biv Devoe, “Roller Coaster” has a jazzy, house flow in the same vein as the aforementioned new jack swing, though not falling squarely into the genre. It mimics the stomach-whirling feeling of being on the thrill ride that could easily be compared to the lightheadedness attached to having a crush, taking a trip to the sky as it leads into the dreamy and carefree “Poppin’ Star.”
“Can’t We Just Leave the Monster Alive,” “Magic Island,” and “20cm” are the calm between the more energetic tracks, each in their own way. “Monster” carries the undercurrent of an island beat during the sunrise while “Magic Island” comparatively eases into the calm of sunset, complete with a harmonious, soothing chorus referencing the stars. In fact, the album as a whole gradually slows from Tracks 3-7 with the much-anticipated “20cm” serving as the resident slow jam, showcasing a more mature sound for the quintet through the electric piano-driven R&B groove.
Throwing in a “Love ya 3000,” the energy picks up again in the last track, “Angel Or Devil,” a song about a person’s endless battle between their two inner voices. Its staging is just as fun as the song itself, even drawing inspiration from their seniors, BTS, through the choreography during a line taken from Skool Luv Affair’s “Boy In Luv.” It makes for a solid ending, ensuring that you’ll be compelled to bop to the beat just as much on the way out as you did when the album began. There’s no doubt that The Dream Chapter: MAGIC is a great addition to what TXT brings to the table as the album quickly rose to #1 on iTunes, and we look forward to what’s to come!
TOMORROW X TOGETHER is a five-member group under BigHit Entertainment. Since their debut in March 2019, TXT has earned multiple awards and successfully hit the road for their first U.S. showcase, TOMORROW X TOGETHER SHOWCASE: STAR in US, which sold out in less than twenty-four hours. Despite the immense pressure that surrounds them, TXT continues to dream big while also looking at the road ahead, hoping for the best in a “head in the clouds, feet on the ground” manner. “Our dream is to receive rookie awards at the year-end shows,” said Hueningkai at their press conference for the new album. Yeonjun expressed another dream of theirs, one that’s already begun for the boys and will continue to blossom: “We want to sing and perform for as many people as possible.”
The Dream Chapter: STAR debuted at #140 on the US Billboard 200 and #1 on the US Billboard World Album chart upon its release, pleasantly surprising the group. “It was an unimaginable achievement,” said Beomgyu, “I hope this album can also be on the charts. But most of all, I hope the people who waited for our comeback will be satisfied to hear it.”
As TXT embarks on their upcoming appearances on music shows in Korea, The Dream Chapter: MAGIC is available for purchase in two versions—Sanctuary and Arcadia—and is now streaming globally on all major music platforms.
What’s your favorite song on TOMORROW X TOGETHER’s new album? Let us know in the comments below!