There’s a rumble in the ground, a rupture, a star shining in the sky. Like a meteor landing on a quiet plain, SuperM – the Avengers of K-pop – landed in our lives, igniting the industry in unprecedented ways. With K-pop now considered a global phenomenon, how much more innovation is required to demand attention? The answer lies in the Capitol Records and SM Entertainment supergroup: the first K-pop act to debut in the US who immediately stole the show and made music fun again with their record-breaking 2019 introduction. SuperM consists of a diverse group of stars hailing from different groups: Taemin from SHINee, Kai and Baekhyun from EXO, Taeyong and Mark from NCT 127, and Ten and Lucas from WayV. They are the future, the charismatic force managing to both elevate and inspire. With Super One, the group’s first full-length album released on 25th September, they graduate from simply jumping and popping (Jopping!) to invoking the sincere emotions of listeners while simultaneously lighting up the room in the way that only they know how.
Baekhyun – the soulful vocalist, humble leader, and oldest member of SuperM – opens up about their growth: “When we first met, I could tell that the younger members were feeling a little nervous. But aside from working and performing together, we also naturally spent a lot of time together off stage, too.” In fact, their chemistry is palpable: “From sharing the same rooms when we were on tour in the US to shooting a reality show together recently, we made a lot of memories. Now, we’re like close brothers. We feel very comfortable with each other.”
Since joining the supergroup, Baekhyun’s Delight, released in May, became the first album in 19 years by a Korean soloist to sell over 1 million copies. Baekhyun says, “Shortly after completing my solo activities with ‘Candy’ [the lead single], I regrouped with SuperM, and I definitely feel more at ease in a group.” As evidenced by their discography, which fuses elements of hip-hop, pop, and various other genres, “We are always experimenting with different styles and trying to create something new so the synergy that we bring to the stage is very distinct and unique.”
Taemin has found similar success with his solo endeavours, recently releasing his best-selling project to date just this month. His 3rd Korean studio album, Never Gonna Dance Again: Act 1, hit number 1 on several iTunes Top Albums charts including the US and Canada. The graceful performer ponders the importance of embarking on this journey with the rest of SuperM. “Through our individual teasers, we wanted to tell a personal story about our beginnings—from how we developed our dreams to how we got to where we are now. They are reflections of our past that allowed us to become the artists that we are today.” For Taemin personally, who first debuted in SHINee in 2008, “This experience helped broaden my boundaries as an artist and I’m very thankful for that.”
Taemin’s wisdom is apparent in how he interprets his growth, “Although I’ve performed abroad many times before, SuperM was formed with the global market in mind so I took this as a new challenge and a great opportunity for me to learn and grow even more. Through SuperM, I was able to get closer to my international fans and learn more about their cultures. Because of the opportunities I’ve had more recently to perform on a global stage, my stage performances and mannerisms have improved and this has made me a stronger artist.”
Branded as fast-moving and dynamic, there were certain expectations for them to continue on this path. The motifs are intentional, but fitting, and as the endearing Hong Kong rapper Lucas puts it, “‘Movement’ and ‘speed’ for us carries a deep meaning and represents our strength and energy. It also describes how SuperM is always moving forward no matter how difficult the situation may be. There is no better tomorrow if you’re not moving forward.”
Taemin further reflects on this. “I think fans will be surprised to hear mellow, medium-tempo tracks that are not performance-based. Incorporating the performance element is of course one of the most important parts of what SuperM does in our music, but this time, we also wanted to emphasise a message of hope.”
Kai, lead dancer of EXO and Gucci ambassador, who will also be embarking on his solo career soon, shares that “I really want to perform ‘Infinity’ and ‘Monster’. Together, they form our title track, ‘One’. I’m excited to perform ‘One’ as well, but also would love to showcase the two tracks separately, as I think that would bring a different charm on stage.”
The love for this track is echoed by Taemin, an expert when it comes to this fusion of songs as SHINee also had a combination of tracks with 2012’s ‘Sherlock’, a mix of ‘Clue’ and ‘Note’. “With K-pop, you often have a gradual change of genres in one song, but ‘One’ brings together two completely different songs, so it’s fresh—but it still sounds very natural and seamlessly put together.” He adds, “The members’ vocals really stand out through these tracks so I hope fans enjoy!”
B-sides like ‘Together At Home’ and ‘Wish You Were Here’ are like a comfort blanket for fans, suitable for the current world climate. Kai recognises that impact and describes it as intentional, “Music can really lift your spirits when you’re feeling down so I hope people find healing and happiness while listening to our music. That would make us very happy.”
“From sharing the same rooms when we were on tour in the US to shooting a reality show together recently, we made a lot of memories. Now, we’re like close brothers. We feel very comfortable with each other.”
Prior to the official album drop with title track ‘One’, several songs were released, each accompanied by their own electric music videos. The single, ‘100’, has lyrics written by youngest member Mark, who explains, “For ‘100,’ I wanted to really bring the energy of SuperM, because my verse opens up the track, and I wanted to really complement the song while emphasising our strength as a group and that we have the capability to be at the top.” The Canadian rapper, whose positive energy is contagious, says, “Taeyong and I also wrote our verses for ‘Together At Home,’ and I think we tried to keep the lyrics closely tied to the overarching message of the album. So for that song, we tried to envision what it’s like to be “together at home”, so staying connected to the fans and our loved ones while we are physically apart.”
Ferocious single ‘Tiger Inside’ was released on 1st September, and NCT leader Taeyong describes it best, “as a hip-hop song with an Asian-themed vibe. One part of the lyrics says, “Wake up the tiger inside” which I think describes SuperM’s energy really well. He eloquently personifies the group through a more artistic lens. “SuperM coming together is almost like a painting created using these different colours, to create a new work of art.”
Though promotions are hectic, Taeyong opens up about life outside of the spotlight, sharing, “I personally spent a lot of quality time with my family and also creating new music.” Mark has also been in tune with his rhythmic side, adding, “I’ve been listening to a lot of the new music that’s been coming out… Recently, Big Sean’s new album and Dominic Fike.”
The fashion of the group ranges from traditional Korean wear to modern hip-hop stylings, reflecting the merging of cultures, sounds, and themes apparent in their music. Lucas took a special liking to the outfits they wore for this comeback. “I wore a black outfit in the ‘One’ music video and it made me feel like a fictional character from a film or a book. I really liked the concept of that look. For ‘Tiger Inside’, I wore this beautiful emerald colour outfit with gold embroidery and intricate Asian-themed details—that was another one of my favourites!”
With everything going on in the world right now, Ten, the multilingual Thai singer and dancing king, says, “Right now, our biggest goal is to interact closely with our fans in the best way possible given the current situation. Even though we can’t meet each other in person, we want our fans to know that we are always thinking of them and that we are always trying to create opportunities to make us feel close.” He mentions ‘Beyond Live’, the platform SuperM spearheaded earlier this year to provide a virtual concert experience for fans.
“We are always thinking of fun and innovative ways to interact with our fans so we are definitely planning on doing many more online promotions that bring us closer together.” He elaborates, also sharing that he’s excited to finally perform songs off of Super One.
This album is a new era for SuperM, whose journey as a group has been far from ordinary but delightfully rewarding. As Baekhyun concludes, “When SuperM was first announced to the public, it may have been odd to see members from different groups come together like this to form a new group. But in spite of that, our fans have always cheered us on from the get-go and we’re incredibly grateful for their support.” SuperM’s awareness of the times they’re in and ability to adapt allow them to be a tantalizing force in the industry.
Though awards and accolades are nice, what makes this group special beyond their obvious talent and charm is the passion, grit, and hard work they put into what they do, and Super One is the ultimate care package and culmination of their gifts. Through music, they remind us that we all have the power to unite together as one no matter where we come from.
Press play on SuperM’s new project ‘One (Monster & Infinity)’ below now.