One of my favorite bands in K-pop, one that I have consistently stayed with, is Big Bang. Something about them feels true and genuine, and I love hip hop too. They’re commercial, but not too commercial. There is still some feeling of honesty in their work, and each member is really talented. Well – I did have some reservations about Seungri, but his interview put things into perspective for me because he knows himself he’s not the shining part of Big Bang. But I love their music, each and every single time they release a new album.
They’re also going to be releasing a special edition of their mini-album “Alive” on June 6, titled “Still Alive.” (Haha… oh album titles…) It will feature their previous songs, as well as five new songs: “Still Alive,” “Feeling,” “Bingeul Bingeul,” “Ego,” and “Monster.”
Each member had an interview with 10Asia, and so below is a summary and excerpt from those interviews.
Seungri is the youngest of the group, and the one who has the most to prove to the world. I didn’t even realize that he was also the one who sang the opening verse of “Blue,” which is one of the most soothing songs from Big Bang’s latest album. He felt an intense amount of pressure in being the one to open the song, but G-Dragon had told him that the song would not work without Seungri’s voice. That vote of confidence cheered him up, and I’d say it’s great that they have singer-songwriters in the group that know just how each member’s voice can blend into another’s.
This album was reportedly one of the most mellow of Big Bang’s albums, and Seungri noted that going into this project, the group wanted to make music that people wouldn’t get tired of listening to. To have an album that’s full of too much techno/dance/pop beats, it can get tiring very quickly. I have to agree that this album has a good variety of songs that I don’t get sick of listening to them.
What impresses me is that Seungri knows he’s not the strongest member int he group. His solo debut a couple of years ago wasn’t that strong, and it was because no one had much confidence in his vocals. Therefore he promises to continue to work and improve his skills, and maybe the spotlight will shine on him in a couple of years. He’s also matured over the years with Big Bang; when he was younger he thought that the best thing to do was to get the attention all on himself, but he now realizes that his job is to help make his group mates shine as well. He’s learning that he needs to fill the void for the group, to do the things that the others can’t. In a way, he’s kind of like the glue – seeping into the cracks and making the group more seamless than it already is.
My favorite quote from T.O.P. is this: “A real bad boy always smiles. You need to conceal your feelings.” T.O.P. is the rapper, and his talent is in making the lyrics flow and seem energetic while at the same time being perfectly controlled in every other action and gesture he makes. He’s found that as he’s matured and done more activities with the group, he wants to provide perfect performances for the fans. He has practiced and given a lot of effort in his expressions, his stage acting, and his gestures to provide a mysterious feel to his persona. While everyone else around him is dancing and singing like crazy, T.O.P. is the controlled one – or he aspires to be that.
I do have to admit he has quite the aloof personality, even though apparently he’s really not like that. He did admit that his previous roles on film and TV (i.e. “Into the Fire” and IRIS) have put him in a dark, morbid place, but he believes also that if he had more cheerful roles, his personality both on- and off-screen would change again. He is such a talented actor, and it’s probably mostly because he really devotes his time and energy into it. He finds no reason to do something unless he can really go all the way, and because he’s a singer first and not an actor first, he needs to find good projects that he himself is invested in. With that amount of devotion, I think I can trust that every drama he chooses in the future must be good in some way. It has to be good enough that he believes in the character and the script.
Taeyang is probably one of the more popular singers of the group in that he’s a singer and not a rapper (compared to GD&TOP duo), and he has most success as a solo recording artist. While he’s not exactly my favorite member, I can definitely see his appeal. Much like what the others say, Taeyang has found greater appreciation for the group as their popularity extended well beyond Asia, and stretched to Europe and North America. But at the same time, he has found a yearning to be “free.” It’s been noted that he’s had more energy as he dances and sings onstage, and that he’s letting loose a little more. T.O.P. said that he’s a lot more loose than when he first debuted by about 20%; Taeyang is trying to go all the way. In fact, instead of trying to be a perfectionist like he was when working on his solo album, he’s now become more instinctive about his moves.
It’s interesting to see all the different personalities and levels each member is at in terms of their growth…
He also noted that through their travels in meeting other recording artists – including Chris Brown – he realized that Korean artists tend to restrict themselves. They only record songs that they know will be popular with fans, and something they like. Instead, someone like Chris Brown would record a hundred or so songs and test out different styles. In that way, they can experiment more on different techniques and grow as an artist.
So with that, Taeyang vows that for this year he will go all the way – pour 100% of his heart, energy, and soul to Big Bang and expressing music as freely as he can. He’s not concerned about being number one on the charts, but more in bringing back that vitality in music so that you never feel tired of it.
Now on to Daesung, whom I really like. I’ve fallen in love with his voice, admittedly because of What’s Up. The poor guy had a rough year last year with the media scrutiny and the accident, so much so that he was worried about resuming his activities. He was ashamed of facing the audiences…until he heard the fans’ cheers and support for the group and he regained the confidence in performing. He’s been trying to restrain his personal emotions, and instead convey the emotions carried by the song – which is understandable since I’m sure there are things that he doesn’t want to share with the public. He’s apparently the exact opposite of Seungri, who has more bravado than he does, but the two are the closest and learn from each other.
Daesung is the most humble and quiet of the group, which is actually very reminiscent of his character in What’s Up. He’s the mediator, and he’s been raised to be more modest rather than confident and show off his talents all the time. Once the cameras stop rolling or once he’s off-stage, Daesung prefers to hang back a little. His self-esteem seems to plummet just a little more, and because of the burdens from last year, he was in deeper pain than ever before. Makes you wonder how amazing it is that he can still manage to pull off a brighter personality when in front of the cameras…
He also adds that the group is so diverse that each person adds their own personality and interpretation to the song, which can make for a very chaotic performance. But it’s this freewheeling attitude that they take to their songs that makes Big Bang so unique, because though they’re so individualized, they’re still a cohesive group.
And finally, the leader of the group, G-Dragon. He was the producer of the album as well, and is immensely proud of their work. They all came together and made sure the album was exactly what they wanted – a few steps ahead of the trends instead of following the trends. He admits that YG Entertainment wanted a dance track that could have been more commercial, but G-Dragon did a spin on it with “Fantastic Baby” having singing vocals and a faster tempo. That way, it would not be like the other dance songs out on the market.
YG Entertainment’s CEO Yang Hyun Suk also challenged him into thinking whether the album truly represented the qualities of Big Bang as a group. As a result, G-Dragon focused on making sure that you can tell what kind of group Big Bang in a more emotional way, so that you can think, “Ah – they’re this type of group,” rather than wondering what kind of group they’re trying to be (R&B? Hip-hop? Rap? Pop? Dance?). I guess he was trying to presenta cohesive personality of the group to help enhance the brand name “Big Bang.”
As the main producer of the album, he also had specific notes for his group mates on how to sing or enunciate certain words or lines. However, he also noticed that each singer gave their own interpretation to their part, which in turn made the piece more unique and better. It wasn’t so much that every detail was planned anymore, but like others said, they were more natural so that with each version of the song, the music can breathe and evolve and change just a bit.
To me, all this sounds like they’re trying to be less “manufactured” than other K-pop groups.
He hilariously ends the interview by saying that Big Bang is “[his] weapon, [his] family, and [his] armor” – and he says this because he recently saw “The Avengers.”
So now, all we have to look forward to is the members’ solo albums and another special edition album!