The end usually opens the door for a new beginning. For boy band JYJ, however, a new beginning reflects many things: the past, the present and the future.
JYJ is comprised of Jae-joong, Yu-chun and Jun-su, the former members of one of Korea’s and Asia’s favorite boy bands TVXQ. After a long feud with their former agency SM Entertainment regarding “slave contract” issues, the three idol stars have finally launched a brand new band, poised to leap again with a new album and a showcase in Seoul.
The three may have left the group, but their fans certainly haven’t left them. Some 10,000 fans packed the Hwajeong Stadium, Korea University, from top to bottom Tuesday night, to the extent where it was a bit worrisome. The area filled up instantly with young fans resembling pouring soda into a cup, and while the fans in the front dangled on the security guardrail, the ones in the back constantly moved forward to find a better position to watch the stars.
As soon as the lights went out, the three members appeared center stage, all dressed in black with rather determined expressions on their faces.
Without saying a word to the cheering fans, the trio sang “Empty,” a track composed by famed producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins. The funky electronic number with a catchy punch is one of the 10 tracks that will be on the group’s first album “The Beginning.”
All recorded in English, the new record was produced by Jerkins himself, who has worked with some of the world’s most famous artists including Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga, while some songs were written by hip-hop artist Kanye West as well as the band members.
“This (was) a very special project for us,” the producer said during a short video of the trio recording an album in Los Angeles, and it was easy to see that the experience of working with top musicians helped the members bring out a new side ― groovy and sophisticated with a hint of hip-hop.
As soon as the trio continued with the track “Be the One,” it was easy to see that they were in pretty good shape. Their vocals were almost flawless: not too strong and rough like their previous TVXQ number “Mirotic,” but a lot smoother and easier to listen to. Having only three voices, compared to the original five, did create a bit of a void, but JYJ managed to fill it with fancy and fluent dance moves. Yu-chun’s performance was particularly meaningful, as the 24-year-old has been working on his moves and vocals while shooting the currently airing drama “Sungkyunkwan Scandal.”
The R&B number “Be My Girl” was a present for their fans, and it was evident the audience loved every minute of it as they screamed and reached out when the singers crooned “you should be mine.”
Throughout the showcase, which included two more songs plus the original soundtrack number from Yu-chun’s television drama, it was hard not to notice the excitement, joy and also some nerves on the three members’ faces. Nervous and complicated their minds may be, however, the concert was the perfect way to show fans, and the world, that they were starting all over, feud or no feud.
“The only way for us to communicate with our fans was through an album. I was worried if we would be able to continue to bring that channel to all of you, but now I think we can,” Jun-su said during a short interview session.
At one point, the young men looked as if they would cry, but they held back their tears and assured their fans that they were back, and back for good.
“Thank you,” Jae-joong started out but gave a long pause.
“There has been a lot going on and I believe there will be much more happening soon. We wanted to go on stage so bad and it was hard not being able to do so. We want to get busy and create something that you can all relate to and this record is the start of that vow,” he said.
The video they shot in LA showed the three singers rehearsing with artists and the producer. For the fans, this was indeed a treat since it was the first official video that showed them what they have been doing for the past months. With the local press making various speculations concerning their relationship with TVXQ and their former agency, the video assured fans that the young artists were not just reading media articles, depressed and killing time, but were actually working hard to bring something completely new, especially for the fans.
“We wanted to hold the microphone. All the albums we have worked on have special meanings, but this one required more thought and worries. We are so happy to be busy and we are grateful to the fans that helped us get back on track. Thank you,” Yu-chun said, waving to the crowd.
The group, whose new album can now be found in major record shops, will continue the showcase tour in nine different locations, including Thailand and the United States.
Meanwhile, SM Entertainment filed an injunction on Oct. 8 to prohibit the sales of JYJ’s new album. The agency said Wednesday that signing a contract with C-JES Entertainment was prohibited before any ruling on the case.