It felt just like yesterday when we attended the final stop of 2022 (G)I-DLE WORLD TOUR [JUST ME ( )I-DLE] in Singapore, and last afternoon, we joined (G)I-DLE at their online media showcase for their 5th mini album [I love].
[I love] embodies the audacious aspiration that ‘I’ deserve to stay true to ‘myself’ instead of being what others want me to be and that I hope to throw away the show which I don’t want, and instead present the genuine, true self.
Each of the 6 tracks on the album unravels a different story of love through music, with Soyeon taking the initiative in leading the general album production process as the executive producer, and the band members contributing to the songwriting of all tracks.
For this comeback, the members all went blonde, but in different shades–which was also revealed to be a homage to Marilyn Monroe’s iconic blonde do.
On (G)I-DLE’s recent world tour:
Miyeon: It was truly a happy time. Since it was (G)I-DLE’s first world tour, we were as worried as excited about it, but NEVERLAND from all over the world greeted us so passionately, so we wrapped up our world tour so happily and so well.
Yuqi: (on “TOMBOY”) The whole crowd sang along – we knew that “TOMBOY” received a lot of love in Korea, but we didn’t know people would like it so much abroad. Everyone sang along, and it was remarkable.
Miyeon: Their voices were even louder than ours.
Soyeon: Right. I could hear them even with the in-ear headphones on. I have one more thing. We performed in Thailand, Minnie’s hometown.
Minnie: Right. It was my dream since my childhood. I’ve always wanted to have a concert in Thailand when I become a singer. It was so touching to see my dream come true this time, and it truly became an unforgettable memory. Thank you!
Soyeon: Also, since we were abroad for quite some time, we went sightseeing too. When we were in Thailand, we also visited Minnie’s place.
Yuqi: Actually, first of all, we are so grateful for all the love we receive, but we also realized that a lot of people still don’t know about us. So we wanted to work harder, make more people know about us through this comeback, and when we go on a tour next time, I hope everyone knows about us then. We’re working hard for it.
On [I love]:
Soyeon: For this album, we finished working on it before we went on tour. We wrote all the music, recorded everything, and shot all the images. After that, we went on the tour. There was a clear message we wanted to deliver this time, so although we started working on it shortly after ‘TOMBOY’, it was an easy process. It was really fun.
Regarding the success of “TOMBOY” & pressures
Soyeon: Honestly, the pressure is always there. But I think the pressure motivates us to work hard and put out good music. It’s a blessing. We worked hard with a pleasant kind of pressure. Instead of worrying how much of a success this album would be, we focused on what kind of story we should talk about this time during the whole process.
Our new album [I love] is truly an album about love. It talks about many kinds of love, and has many different emotions. And through all of it, we wanted to embody the process of finding true love. The true love we ultimately ended up with is self-love, and to be loved just as I am, which is why the first track is ‘Nxde’.– Soyeon
Miyeon: Just like the name itself, this album is an album that only talks about love. And the one who receives love can be our family, friends, or one of the many kinds of love out there. So we left the object blank on purpose because we respect all those kinds of love. And the ones who buy and listen to the album can feel free to fill in the blank as they want to. (Note: object here means the subject after ‘I love’)
Soyeon: The love could be for someone’s dream, friend, hobby, or anything.
Regarding the track list
Soyeon: So the order doesn’t actually go from track 6, but the story starts from track 6 and it continues. If track 6 represents someone who has first experienced love, the process of love goes from 6 to 2, and you end up being the person in track 1. That’s how we would like our fans to listen to it, so we’ve been suggesting it.
Regarding their self-produced songs
Yuqi: So except for our debut album, we’ve been putting out albums consisting only of self-produced tracks, starting with our first digital single. Since it’s our very own album, we wanted to make an album with the genres and messages we really want to portray, which I think is why we’ve been self-producing. So, I’m so happy that every time there is a chance to deliver what Yuqi wants to, and what a member of (G)I-DLE wants to, and it’s so great that we can share with our fans the kind of music we want to do and the messages we want to deliver.
Minnie: I’m delighted to let NEVERLAND listen to the music I worked hard on as I always did. And as much as the love we always receive, I really gave all my effort to this album, so I hope NEVERLAND really enjoy and relate to this album.
Soyeon: I also have similar thoughts. For our team, it’s so fun that all five of us always decide on a concept and work together. And it’s great to see our fans like it too. I’m very grateful that they let us share our stories. I felt that again as I worked on this album. It was so fun.
Regarding who is the strictest producer (between Soyeon, Minnie, Yuqi)
Miyeon: To start with Minnie, she gives a lot of freedom. ‘Do what you want. Try to sing it in your own style.’ She leaves it all open and tries to complete it collaboratively. Soyeon has a goal in mind, so we work together to reach that goal. She has very clear directions, so it’s comfortable. They’re exact opposites. Yuqi also knows what she wants, but when she explains it, they’re so strange I go like, ‘What does that mean?’ She would be like, ‘Try to do it just 0.1 second later.’ She uses lots of abstract expressions, so it’s a bit challenging. She’s not a scary producer, but recording sessions with her are pretty hard.
Soyeon: She’s an artist. She’s more detailed.
Miyeon: She is, but it takes a while to figure things out. I didn’t mean it in a bad way. Yuqi also gives lots of compliments. She would be like, ‘That’s it, that’s it’.
Shuhua: I think the same too.
Soyeon: So you find Yuqi the scariest too?
Shuhua: She’s not scary, but…
Soyeon: But strict?
Yuqi: I am strict. I admit it. I don’t let them come out of the booth until I have what I wanted. I would start by giving freedom. But if it doesn’t feel right, then I’d tell them to do it my way.
Shuhua: Minnie, just like what Miyeon said, gives a lot of freedom. She also gives lots of compliments. It feels comfortable. Soyeon’s great. She gives a lot of compliments to me. But it’s a bit challenging when I’m confused with diction.
Soyeon: It’s not really about having perfect Korean pronunciation. I think there is a way of diction that delivers the emotion more effectively. I try to get more out of her to make that happen.
On [I love]’s B-sides
Yuqi: First of all, to start with the 6th track “DARK (X-file)”, we said earlier that you should listen to this album starting with the 6th track. “DARK (X-file)” is about someone who’s so deeply in love, and moments where you come to doubt if what you’re doing is right. The song itself is dark because you’re unsure if you like seeing yourself like that. The song is about the time you’re so deeply immersed in love. To talk about “Reset”, the lyrics are very specific. Soyeon wrote the lyrics. Do you want to explain it, Soyeon? I thought the lyrics were great.
Soyeon: Let’s talk about the melody first.
Yuqi: Well, the melody is actually pretty bright. But the lyrics have a very different charm because, if you think of yourself in this love, you doubt if you’re happy. But the lyrics are the exact opposite. You thought you were happy, but you’re actually hurt. And you’ve just realized, or starting to think from listening to this song, that some things can’t be solved even if you try to make it work. Now, I’ll turn it over to Soyeon for the lyrics.
Soyeon: “DARK (X-file)” talks about the true basis of love. I think love is the strongest emotion of all, and rational thoughts can’t win over love. I think that’s what love is. Nothing can win over our parents’ love. I tried to talk about that in a dark way in the lyrics. To talk about “Reset”… I don’t think you can win someone’s heart with effort. If it’s an object, or your dream, you can get them through effort. But I think one’s heart is the only thing you can’t get even if you try hard, so I wrote the lyrics for “Reset”. If you listen to it, it’s about a situation where you can only give up.
You can’t be loved just because you want someone to love you. Just like our fans’ love, No one can force you to love or not to. It is a song with a message like that.– Soyeon, on “Reset”
Minnie: The fifth track, “Sculpture”, is a song about a person who loves the other so much that she wants to do everything for her lover. ‘I love you so much even if I have to be cut like a sculpture’, ‘It is better to lose me than to lose you.’ I think it is really sad to be in love like that. I recommend it because I think it will be a song that many people can relate to. And It’s a very unique song. And the third track “Change” is about how people change over time. Even if they look good and perfect, what is in their heart?
Soyeon: Let me explain more about “Sculpture” and “Change”. When the demo version of “Sculpture” first came, the lyrics were like ‘I won’t be your sculpture’. But in fact, because it was something we did a lot, I thought it would be more fun if there was a love story that just became a sculpture in this album. Because it’s not easy to be loved for who you are from the beginning, sometimes we’re in love trying hard to be like someone’s sculpture. So we completely changed the direction of writing the lyrics.
Minnie: ‘Even if I was cut or cracked’, I really liked that expression.
Soyeon: Because I love you, even if I gets cut and cut and cracked, what else can I do other than break it? Still, it’s better to lose me than to lose you. That is to say. But it’s a really bad love. Don’t be in a relationship like this.
Minnie: And “Change” has a lot of English lyrics. So, I think overseas fans can easily empathize with it.
Soyeon: “Change” is about a message of you’re not necessarily happy even if it seems like there’s a lot of love. Because people only feel happy when they have the love they want. Celebrities always get a lot of love and look gorgeous, but they aren’t necessarily happy.
To explain a little bit about “LOVE”, the b-side I wrote, it actually started with completely different lyrics. But as we decided to put it on this album, I changed the lyrics entirely. The reason is, we needed a song about the point where you have come to love yourself. “LOVE” is about, ‘I have a great partner now. I really love them. They will not hurt me, and I don’t think I will ever get hurt from this love.’ ‘And that person is me. I have come to love myself.’ It’s a story we really needed on this album. The message we really wanted to address. I have come to love myself the most, and this love makes me the happiest. Yes, you have to love yourself so you can love others.
On Title Track “Nxde”
Soyeon: The title track “Nxde” uses the word “nude” metaphorically to explain the genuine and confident side of me. The word “nude” can be perceived as a provocative word, and people may think, ‘Why is it ‘nude’? Isn’t it too explicit?’ But when I thought of the word “nude”, I thought of my true self, not an undressed version of me. Your true self isn’t you with makeup on, but your bareface is. You don’t call it “makeup-less face”. It’s just a face. I think that’s how I saw “nude”. You wearing the real version of yourself. So that’s how the song was made, and it’s a song in the alternative pop genre that adopted the melody of “Habanera”, the aria of “Carmen” the opera.
On Going Blonde
Soyeon: Time-wise, when Marilyn Monroe was active as a star, she was the blonde beauty, being consumed as a sex symbol. The standards change with time. Nowadays, if you carry designer brand bags, then people would judge you by your looks. Each era has a different stereotype. If you look like a nice person, then you’re a nice person. If you don’t look like one, people would think you have quite a temper. To tackle that, we wanted to focus on the time when Marilyn Monroe was active, so all of us decided to go blonde. I heard that she was actually very intelligent and into books, especially philosophical ones.
When I saw the movie “Blonde”, I thought it primarily focused on her rumours and looks. It was about what can easily come to our minds when we think of Marilyn Monroe’s time. For us, rather than that, we tried to address the parts of her that people overlooked because of her looks and image. Because we are celebrities, there are people who judge us by the cover, but we’re not quite like that. So we thought maybe it was the same for Marilyn Monroe too. We also wanted to show our confidence by going blonde, so we all decided to go blonde this time.
And even us as idols, people would think, ‘They probably like to dress up since they’re idols. They enjoy this and that because they’re idols.’ We wanted to address all these kinds of stereotypes.
“Nxde” Music Video Storyline
Minnie: The music video of “Nxde” portrays the duality of a show girl who presents what the audience wants on stage, not who she really is. It was made in the style of a musical theatre and old show. There is an auction scene at an art museum, and you’ll also see a modern scene with comments seen on a smartphone. We tried to express stereotypical judgments towards us in many different ways.
Yuqi: For this music video, instead of all five members having a character of each, we all portrayed a single character, but on stage and backstage. Each of us was assigned a different phase of the process. Everyone had different acting segments, so it’s really fun to watch.
Something special I did for this music video is I dressed up exactly the same as Marilyn Monroe. With the same white dress and curly hair. As I was filming it, I really felt like I’d become a movie star, so it was really fun. So her signature pose is the pose where she holds her skirt when the wind blows. But instead of doing that, I think I felt more confident while acting than I seem on the screen. People may want me to act sexy, but even as I was putting on the white dress, I felt very confident. I tried to pose thinking, ‘I am the icon of the time itself’.
Minnie: So my first scene is an homage to Marilyn Monroe’s iconic scene singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” with the pink dress on. I watched that video so many times and tried to think of the best facial expressions and gestures because it’s such a new style for me, something I’ve never tried before. It was a new experience for me, so I tried to study Marilyn Monroe’s characteristics and make it my own.
Soyeon: I really like the movie and the scene, and it’s a scene that many other artists homage to. From Madonna’s version to our version, although they share the same aesthetics and image, we wanted to show the confidence level gradually rising. It was really fun. We wanted to make sure we have that scene in the music video.
Miyeon: My character is an actress having a press conference in front of many journalists. I tried to act in a way that shows how she doesn’t want to deal with them, so I actually did it with the same attitude. All the actors there did so well. It was a whole new concept and atmosphere for me too, so I really enjoyed filming it. I also look good in it, so please look forward to it.
Shuhua: I had two characters, An actress and the art piece. It just felt like acting. I didn’t find it challenging.
Soyeon: I was the sculpture for an auction. It was hard. The costume was so heavy. It weighed 20kg, so I couldn’t move without carrying it. It’s an actual art piece too. I put on an art piece to become an art piece, and went out for an auction.
TMI Of “Nxde” Music Video Filming
Shuhua: There’s a choreography scene with fire and explosions in the back. It was a real fire.
Minnie: So it was really hot while we were dancing.
Yuqi: We burned a whole piano. Lots of adventures again this time.
Minnie: When I’m wearing the pink dress, there’s a huge bow attached to the back of it. It was kind of uncomfortable when I was dancing. But the bow was so cute, I hope you see it. Marilyn Monroe’s original pink dress was very pretty, but we tried to find a dress in our own style. A more modernized version.
Also, I filmed with male non-Korean dancers. They made it so fun and comfortable. We did the group choreography together for the first time on the set. They worked so hard, and they’re really fluent in Korean.
Yuqi: There’s a scene where I’m walking like I’m at a show, on a runway. It looks cool, but I was actually walking on a treadmill. What’s funny was the treadmill didn’t have any handles. When I walked on it, it would randomly get slow or fast. If I got a little off center, the treadmill would get slow or fast. So I realized that I have a bad balance. It was a really fun experience. I had to look at the camera, and I couldn’t look down.
Miyeon: So during the press conference scene I mentioned earlier – In real life, we’re always bright and having fun in those press conference moments. But pretending like I didn’t like being there was kind of tough. We always talk in a fun and lively atmosphere, but I had to act like I hate it and want to be done with it. The acting was harder than I thought it would be.
Goals & Ambitions For This Album
Yuqi: Every time we put out a new song or an album, we actually don’t have a specific goal in mind. The reason we do music is always to deliver our message and do the music we want to do. For this album [I love], since it talks so much about love and has lots of things you can relate to, we hope people really connect with this album, and we hope you truly understand the self-love message we want to deliver through “Nxde”. I think these are our goals this time.
Shuhua: If I have a goal this time, it’s to top the digital music chart.
Miyeon: The story of this album is the process of learning about love. I hope many people relate to this album when they listen to it. We also learned about through this album, so we hope you have that time for yourselves too. And for a song and an album like this, it’s better to enjoy it together with others. If it becomes a success, that would be grateful too. Since we already said it.
Minnie: Our goal this time is to have many people listen to our album [I love] and connect with it. As you listen from our title track to all the B-sides, try to love yourself more. And become confident too. It’s because you can love others more if you love yourself first. So, everyone, please give lots of love to yourselves.
Soyeon: What just came to mind is, we had “TOMBOY”, right? And now that we’re putting out “Nxde”, I hope people say that (G)I-DLE really served the music industry this year. From “TOMBOY” to “Nxde”, all of them were mega hits. It wasn’t just a “TOMBOY” syndrome, it was a (G)I-DLE syndrome this year. These are things we’d love to hear.
‘Of course, it’s (G)I-DLE’!– What (G)I-DLE wants to hear from the audience
Listen to [I love]: ingrv.es/Ilove
Watch the music video for “Nxde”: