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Thursday, July 19, 2012

K-pop boys back in MBLAQ


By KWAAK JE YUP
Korea Times, KF and CJ E&M

SEOUL — Watching MBLAQ, it is difficult to believe that they have only been performing together for a little over two years.

They do not miss a single step or note and are excellent dancers and singers. They have the power and charisma that drive audiences wild. Everything about the five men — Cheon Dung, G.O., Joon, Mir and Seungho — belies the brevity of the group's history.

Maybe it is thanks to their relative maturity — three of them are now aged 24 and the other two a year or two younger — and the long years spent training as hard as any other K-pop stars in the making, but their natural talent is undeniable.

The group's potential first became apparent overseas. Pitted against many other boy-band competitors since its debut, MBLAQ initially found success, but it was nowhere near the most popular in the domestic market.

Though handpicked and trained by one of Korea's pop superstars, Rain (the stage name of singer-actor Jung Ji Hoon), that association alone could not propel MBLAQ to the top of the charts. Meanwhile, thanks to social networks and YouTube, fans started popping up all over the world, from East Asia to Europe and Latin America.

When MBLAQ visited Brazil as part of a cover dance festival, over 3,000 fans showed up at the airport and 5,000 more at the hotel. It made the national TV news.

MBLAQ's members are candid with their worries about overexposure — "We've shown ourselves so frequently and so much that we should take a step back some time," says Seungho — but such concerns only motivate them further to dig deeper and bring something new to the stage. Each member also has a solo segment at their concerts, such as on a recent international tour, before which our interview takes place.

"We'll only show (those segments) to the fans who come to the show," says G.O., whose duet with rapper bandmate Mir was released right before the tour. "It's going to be special."

"My solo track will be unveiled (during the performance) as well," says Cheon Dung, rapper and vocalist. "There are both emotional lyrics and earsplitting beats. It'll sound great and look great, too."

With each member possessing such individual talent, do any of them feel, even at two and a half years into their career, that they have already outgrown the group? Certainly not, they say.

"People talk about the downsides of being an idol (rather than a musician), but we feel it's a blessing," says G.O. "People know that our songs are difficult to perform. They can see that even as idols we can sing well."

"I tend to look from a fan's, an ordinary listener's eyes," says Seungho, who blends this perspective with an open admiration for heavy metal. "We should also try to make songs that are easy to sing along to, I feel."

"Whatever opportunity comes my way, I want to try it," says Cheon Dung. "I did my first solo photo shoot this time, which was a little awkward, but it felt new. I wrote my first song this time, and that's really meaningful to me. I want to do this until the day I die."

For more, visit www.enewsworld.com.

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