Securing yourselves as one of the top-selling acts in one of the biggest music markets in the world in a year would be more than satisfactory for most artists—but ENYHPEN is aiming way bigger.
Since their official debut onto the music scene in November 2020, ENHYPEN has taken the international fandom that watched how 23 K-pop hopefuls whittled into the seven-member boy band they are today and kept a close and open dialogue. Members Jungwon, Jay, Sunghoon, Jake, Heeseung, Sunoo and Ni-ki have spoken about their hope to turn their stories as next-generation pop stars into “music that everyone can relate to” and in one year have connected with an increasingly growing and global audience.
Taking a moment to recount their first year together—that’s included earning South Korea’s ninth-biggest-selling album of 2021, landing several best new-artist awards, and making high-profile TV appearances around the world—the guys see themselves well on their way to reaching their intended vision.
“I think we achieved so much more in the past year than we actually imagined,” says Jake in an early-morning video chat from Korea. “We received the Rookie of the Year award[s], we entered the Billboard charts, we met our fans through a fan meeting and performed on U.S. TV shows. So, I feel like all of these things make us feel very proud of and so thankful to have achieved them as a team.”
Despite the gratitude on where their hard work has gotten so far, ENHYPEN is also clear that they’re working for even larger goals and, with that, larger recognition.
“We worked really hard to perfect our flawless, synchronized group choreography,” Jungwon shares. “But most of all I hope that not only ENGENEs, but all the general public can listen to our music and think of ENHYPEN as the ‘final K-pop destination.’ [We say ‘final K-pop destination’] as it reflects our hopes that when fans think of K-pop, they automatically think of us. Our ENGENEs already love us a lot and give us support, but we would hope that the public would also think of ENHYPEN.”
That mindset continues with ENHYPEN’s latest release Dimension: Answer, a deluxe repackage of the group’s full-length album Dimension: Dilemma from October that sold a massive 1.2 million copies worldwide, according to Korea’s Gaon charts. It’s also a reflective moment for the septet through lead single “Blessed-Cursed.” With a sound that blends ‘70s hard rock with a modern-day Post Malone hip-hop twist, the track explores an all-too-common reality that fame and reaching one’s desires isn’t always all it’s cracked up.
“‘Blessed-Cursed’ is about boys who learn more about reality and now realize that what they’ve been given is not quite a blessing but more of a curse,” explains Heeseung. “As you know, ENHYPEN went through a survival TV show and, after our debut, we received the full support of the company and we grew while receiving so much support. Of course, we thought that was a blessing and we don’t think of it as a curse per se like in the song. But we did have some difficulties with that—we realized certain responsibilities came with being an artist and we are looking for ways to show the best sides of ENHYPEN. That’s the kind of parallel with the song and in our lives.”
Jake adds that “just being an artist and having the mindset of an artist is something that we always need to improve on and develop as we go through this journey—I feel like there are a lot of little milestones and kinds of issues that we go through and navigate as artists.”
Overall though, the guys note that their careers are ultimate blessings thanks to their fans (“The goals we reached are, most importantly, a reflection of the love and support from our ENGENEs,” Jake adds) even if they fell on some hard times as a team during Year 1 (“Our full-length studio album came out a little later than we expected due to the pandemic situation and everything so we were a bit sad that we had to meet ENGENEs a little later than we thought”). They’re determined to give back to ENGENEs in 2022 though.
So far, that has also included new Dimension: Answer song “Polaroid Love” that Sunoo explains tells the story of “boys who think that the special kind of moment that is in a Polaroid photo, the special kind of love that we feel through photographs, might last forever. That’s a parallel to how we feel about the special moments that we share with ENGENEs—we hope they might go on forever and ever.” Another note of the connection between the group and their music: youngest member Ni-ki is an avid fan and taker of Polaroids.
But ENHYPEN’s biggest hope is that they can spread their messages with overseas traveling this year to have their fans—as well as the general public—see what they really can do in person.
“We weren’t able to meet our fans overseas, so any opportunity to meet them would be really great,” Sunoo notes, before adding, “Although we speak different languages, we really think that we can connect with them through our music and performances.”
Jay says that “We didn’t get to meet ENGENEs a lot this year so hopefully next year things go well and we have more chances to meet them” with Jungwon adding, “We debuted during the pandemic so we weren’t able to see our fans that much but until then we hope they all stay healthy and we hope to see you in person too.”
And if the slick-yet-aggressive choreography of the “Blessed-Cursed” choreography is any indication, audiences around the world will, no doubt, also be hooked the moment they get a chance to see ENHYPEN in person too.