Block B hits ‘Jackpot’ with new look that makes you say ‘Her’

August 5, 2014
block b

The album’s theme put the band in colorful outfits, equipped with cute expressions and lovable motions. (Yonhap)

Nowadays, Block B is like a car without brakes. The group’s popularity shows no signs of slowing down.

The boy band, comprised of members Zico, Tae-il, Jae-hyo, B-Bomb, P.O, Park Kyung and U-Kwon, saw the top of the charts with “Jackpot” last month.

Block B, which debuted in 2011, differed in music and character from all those “copycat” idols in the saturated music industry from the get-go — they didn’t give off the vibe of having been created under intense calculation from a record label.

Most of their music is produced by Zico, who mixes hip-hop beats with electronic, rock blues and funk. Zico’s music isn’t the kind that goes with ultra-synchronized choreography, and the band’s lyrics don’t coo about love, as is the case with many other boy bands.

The members’ characters as seemingly uncontrollable bad boys make appearances as pirates in “Nillili Mambo,” as mask-wearing villains in “Jackpot” and as bank robbers in “Very Good.” And as Block B sees success, more and more boy bands with a “manly” hip-hop concept have popped up in the K-pop industry.

But the band rejects being the same as others.

They attempted a change of pace by using love as a theme in their new EP, titled “Her.” The title has two meanings — the word as it refers to a woman, and the Korean slang used for surprise, “hul,” which is an exclamation to express the shock of seeing “her.”

The album’s theme put the band in colorful outfits, equipped with cute expressions and lovable motions.

Block b

Block B dares to be different.

“It’s embarrassing to meet someone wearing the same clothes as you when you go out,” they said in a recent interview with Yonhap in Yeouido. “We worked on the album with the feeling of putting on new clothes.”

Zico, who wrote and composed “Her,” said he tried to step away from the mainstream.

“An emotional theme, which is familiar to a lot of other bands, was unique to us,” he said. But “Her” isn’t just a sweet love song — it starts with blues rock and transitions into guitar. “I wanted us to change naturally and not too abruptly, as it would have been awkward. So we chose a love song that reflects our color, but ‘Her’ is in no way a ‘sweet’ song.”

Rappers P.O and Park Kyung attempted vocals for the track.

“It wasn’t too difficult because the song’s raps have melodies and don’t require outstanding vocals,” Park Kyung said.

“It was difficult for me. I have a low pitch, and the song was high. But it was a melody that I wanted to really sing well,” P.O said.

The rest of the album was produced to fit the concept. The first track, “Rare Women,” and “Now Hug Me,” are blatant love songs.

If there’s a standout song, it’s “Jackpot.” It was originally intended to be the title song of the band’s April album. Its music video dropped on the same day as the Sewol tragedy — they cancelled the album release altogether.

“‘Jackpot’ is a song that invites everyone to play together, but we had no thoughts of promoting it once such a big tragedy hit,” B-Bomb said. “Instead, with more time, we focused on working on a solid new album.”

“We finally released the audio of ‘Jackpot’ after three months, and we counted the fact that it stayed near the top of the charts and that it received love as a surprise,” U-Kwon said.

There have been obstacles as well. In 2012, the band met the biggest controversy of its career after a criticized interview with Thai media. Last year, it was embroiled in a battle with its former label, Stardom Entertainment.

“I felt like we were a car without brakes because we weren’t mature enough,” Zico said. “We just kept going forward without a driving teacher and without a navigation.”

“We didn’t feel like celebrities and didn’t know how our behavior reflected,” Park Kyung said. “I learned that fans and staff can get hurt because of us. We’re learning a lot through experience.”

“Through ‘Nalina,’ ‘Nillili Mambo’ and ‘Very Good,’ I wanted to establish the kind of music people think of when it comes to Block B. Through ‘Jackpot’ and ‘Her,’ I wanted to show everyone that we don’t have limits on our musical spectrum,” Zico said. “Lately, a genre of music called trap is being attempted a lot. I love trap, but I avoided it because so many people are doing it.”

Through the chart success of “Her,” Block B is finding themselves on more solid ground. About 50,000 copies of the album have been ordered thanks to their official fanclub, BBC.

What they need now is teamwork.

“We fight a lot because we think so differently. But we also recover quickly. We even  spend personal time together a lot. We go play basketball at the Han River, and have beer and chicken afterwards. When we play, we play healthy,” they said as they laughed.

This is a translated version of a Yonhap news article written in Korean.