The five-member boy band SS501, which has been holding its first Asia tour entitled “Persona” since its debut in 2005, will release a mini-album in Korea late this month. Entitled “Rebirth,” it’s the first album to feature all five members in a year and seven months.
After performing in Korea and Japan in August, SS501 finally visited Taiwan to perform at the Taipei Arena. Kim Hyun-joong, who came down with swine flu in September during his stay in Japan, said his swine flu symptoms included a fever of over 39.5℃, diarrhea six to seven times a day, and coughs of 4-5 times a minute. “It’s like the worst degree of a cold. The most difficult part was being isolated. It’s a very lonesome disease,” said Kim, adding that he was scared to see other swine flu patients who were hospitalized on the same floor with him dying of the disease. “I believed that I would recover,” said the singer.
Following the nice chat about his swine flu experience, Kim went on to discuss the group’s popularity in Taiwan. SS501 received a very warm welcome from its Taiwanese fans. The group held its first fan meeting in Taiwan in June, but it is SS501’s first concert in that country. Five albums from SS501 that were released in Taiwan in July sold more than 100,000 copies in just three months, earning SS501 the White Gold Disc from the Taiwanese album distributor.
Taiwanese dailies covered SS501’s arrival to Taiwan. One of them wrote that some 600 fans welcomed the group at the airport and were upset to see Kim Hyun-joong looking emaciated after falling ill. The daily also added that SS501 was welcomed by 1,500 fans back in June when it visited the country for a fan meeting.
As was expected, SS501’s concert in Taiwan was sold out. “We rented a rehearsal room on the day of our arrival and rehearsed till midnight. The next day we held a news conference and rehearsed again from 3PM till midnight. We wanted to make everything perfect because the stage was different from Korea and Japan,” said the group members.
The repertoire of SS501’s Asia tour concerts includes songs from its new mini-album. Its jacket features the name Steven Lee, who wrote all the songs. He is a Korean American producer who also wrote for the popular German group US5 and top Japanese groups KAT-TUN and Arashi. The renowned music engineer Ken Lewis, who also worked with Usher and John Legend, took care of mixing, why choreographer AJ, who used to choreograph for Michael Jackson and Usher, created SS501’s new dance.
“Our new songs including the title song ‘Love Like This’ are pop-style numbers. We had many discussions with Steven Lee to come up with pop songs that appeal to the Korean public. This album is very special to us because it reflects our opinions. We wanted to create our unique style while the K-pop scene was dominated by ‘hook songs.’ Rather than following trends, we wanted to set new trends,” said Kim.
Due to a number of problems, the album release was postponed by two months. The song that the group received from a music dealer to be used as a title song was found to have already been released overseas. To make things worse, the dealer turned out to have no right to sell the song and just wanted to reap profits.
“The song that we heard on a plane on our way from Japan was identical with the song that we were to release soon. We notified our agency and realized that we had been duped by the dealer. Had we released that song, we would have been accused of plagiarism,” said Kim.
The new album contains five songs. The lyrics of one of them were written personally by the members for their fans. Kim Hyun-joong wrote the lyrics for the song “Obsess.” The special edition of the album sold more than 30,000 copies on the day of its release; 20,000 additional copies are to be released soon in 10 countries.
The five members finally got together after being active solo for a long time. Kim Hyun-joong appeared in the TV drama “Boys Over Flowers,” Park Jung-min acted in the musical “Grease,” and Heo Young-saeng, Kim Hyung-joon and Kim Kyu-jong were active with the hit song “U R Man.” This time, all five are determined to stay together for as long as possible.
SS501 will perform in Shanghai in November, before it flies to Hong Kong in December and visits Thailand and Malaysia in January. In February, the group will perform in Singapore and Beijing.
“We realize that the U.S. music market is hard to succeed in. We want to lay a springboard in Asia before we advance into the Middle East, Africa and the U.S.,” said the SS501 members. (KBS)