Missing a member, BEAST bets big on summer album

July 5, 2016

SEOUL, July 5 (Yonhap) — South Korean boy band BEAST couldn’t wish more that its new album, “Highlight,” will turn out to be a success.

With younger rookie boy groups emerging here and there, the seven-year veterans waited a whole year to release their third and latest full-length album.

In fact, the pressure has become heavier for what is now a five-member act, as Hyunseung, one of the six starting members of BEAST, left the group in April over disagreements with the others.

“We had our troubles and difficulties in adjusting to the five-member system,” said Yang Yo-seob, the lead vocalist of BEAST, in a round-robin interview with local media in eastern Seoul on Monday.

“We hope that the new album will dissolve the fans’ anxiety and other worries (about Hyunseung leaving the team.) We understand that the fans loved us as a six-member group, and that’s exactly why we have to make this five-member system work,” the 26-year-old member continued, careful not to mention the name of the missing member, just like his four partners.


From L: BEAST members Yoon Doo-joon, Song Dong-woon, Yang Yo-seob, Lee Gi-kwang and Yong jun-hyung (Yonhap)

From L: BEAST members Yoon Doo-joon, Song Dong-woon, Yang Yo-seob, Lee Gi-kwang and Yong jun-hyung (Yonhap)

Lee Gi-kwang, another BEAST member in charge of vocals, agreed that the group had to bring up far more effort for “Highlight,” he said to “to make up for the vacancy.”

BEAST’s members said they don’t keep in touch with Hyunseung, but wish him well.

The interview took place on a drowsy, rainy afternoon, at a cafe in the agency’s new office building in eastern Seoul. The usually jovial, high-spirited members touched on some of the other more sensitive parts of their concerns as well.

Yoon Doo-joon, BEAST leader and vocalist, admitted that he was pressured about BEAST in the eyes of the public. Celebrating his 27th birthday, Yoon feared that people now have a “different appreciation” of BEAST. The singer said he checks out the comments and postings about BEAST online.

“Frankly speaking, it is always the case with people’s evaluation (of idol groups). As time goes by, it’s natural to see (idol groups subside) in evaluation and marketability to the press. But I want to hear them say (BEAST) is aging but keeping up its usual fantastic work.”

The BEAST members are between 25 and 27 — still young and blooming — but have grown into mature musicians after the band’s debut in 2009.

“Ribbon,” the lead song of the 12-song album “Highlight,” swept the No. 1 slot in eight major music charts here upon the album’s release at 12 a.m. on interview day.

The pop R&B song compares a dissolved loving relationship to an untied ribbon. The song adds vintage ambiance with a mellow violin and other string instruments.



BEAST member Song Dong-woon (Yonhap)

BEAST member Song Dong-woon (Yonhap)

Surprisingly, Son Dong-woon, another BEAST vocalist, called their new work “an album that almost slipped through his fingers.”

“With a strained time limit, we had to complete the songs before we went on the Japan tour,” the band’s youngest member said.

“One of our members being the primary producer of the album, we all agreed that we could not rush through the album. Without proper musical inspiration, the album hardly becomes a satisfactory work.”

As a matter of fact, BEAST had been slated to release the new album in May. But the date was pushed back to July, with the Japan tour coming up and the members torn about selecting the lead song of the album, Son said.

BEAST member Yong Jun-hyung (Yonhap)

BEAST member Yong Jun-hyung (Yonhap)

Yong Jun-hyung, the album’s main songwriter and producer along with his colleague songwriter Kim Tae-joo, originally passed down four songs to his fellow members to pick the most promising piece.

“The members were all torn about their favorites among the four candidates, which wasn’t a good sign,” the 27-year-old rapper-songwriter said.

“Only a week before setting out for the Japan tour, I asked the members to wait for a new song. That’s how I wrote ‘Ribbon’ in such a short time. After all, taking too much time in writing songs doesn’t always guarantee great songs.”

Yong made “Ribbon” a ballad because the genre performs strongly in all seasons, unlike dance songs.

The new album has also come into the spotlight as three other members — Lee, Yang and Son — had their first self-composed songs included in BEAST’s album.

Yoon, the only member who did not write a song, participated in producing the album.

“It’s all because I suck at songwriting,” Yoon joked.

Yong struck back right away, calling Yoon “a person with the world’s most objective ear,” whose musical preferences always turn out to be the mainstream market taste.

“I am extremely nervous about this particular album. I wish it to become a precious memory for us all, as the older albums always have,” Yoon said, with his fingers crossed.