TVXQ! marks 20th year with studio album, vows to ‘rebel’ against stagnation

December 26, 2023

Marking two decades in the K-pop landscape, powerhouse duo TVXQ! unveiled its ninth full-length album, “20&2,” on Tuesday, signaling its unwavering commitment to musical evolution.

The album’s lead track, “Rebel,” explodes with a potent cocktail of pulsating drum beats and weighty synth bass, propelling the song into a high-octane dance experience.

Its lyrics carry a message that a real rebel of an era is not someone who simply opposes conventional ideas but someone who pushes forward their convictions without wavering.

“After 20 years of activity, we could stagnate at a certain point,” member Max Changmin said of the lead single during a press conference in Seoul to promote the upcoming album. “The song ‘Rebel’ is not about a strong resistance, but rather a message encouraging ourselves to move forward without stagnation.”

The album was filled with tracks where listeners can feel the group’s current music and see the direction it will forge in the future in line with this message, he added.

It also carries “Down,” “Rodeo,” “Jungle” as well as solo tracks by the two members and “Promise,” a song dedicated to the group’s fandom. Changmin is credited as the song’s co-writer.

TVXQ! made its first public appearance and debut on Dec. 26, 2003, as a five-piece boy group, performing its debut single, “Hug,” in a BoA and Britney Spears showcase on SBS TV. Back-to-back hits, like “I Believe,” “Rising Sun,” “Mirotic” and “Keep Your Head Down,” propelled the group to stardom not only in its native country and Japan, but across Asia.

It stood on the forefront of the global boom of Korean pop culture before it was reduced to a duo in August 2010 following the departure of three former members.

Asked about the secret to the group’s longevity, the pair did not hesitate to point to its unwavering commitment to sincerity and passion.

“It’s not just about performing in front of many fans,” U-Know Yunho said, recalling the meticulous effort the group put into every concert, regardless of the scale. “We agonized over every detail with our staff, from how to convey our sincerity to the audience and to the stage design.”

He went on to say: “There are so many people who are better singers and dancers than us. However, I believe that admiration cannot surpass impression. We may still lack in terms of skill, but skill grows over time. We have not forgotten the flame in our hearts.”

The two also pledged to continue moving forward by focusing on the present.

“At first, I thought I should go like a horse. But now, I think it’s important to run slowly and steadily,” Yunho said. “Looking at senior artists, like Cho Yong-pil, Na Hoon-ah and Park Jin-young, I will continue to move forward without resting on my present as an active artist.”

Changmin added: “I think I should successfully complete the upcoming year-end concert in front of me rather than think about big and distant goals. I will become a singer who takes a long breath by successfully completing the concert scheduled for this week.”

TVXQ! will mark the release with a standalone concert at Inspire Arena on Yeongjong Island in Incheon, some 30 kilometers west of Seoul, on Saturday and Sunday.