After what seems to have been an eternity (because basically, it was), Winner’s leader Kang Seung Yoon released his first full solo album, Page and with it the nostalgic and heartfelt title track, IYAH. I am reeling in the wonder of it all. Thrilled, proud and excited, I am also incredibly moved by the thoughtful and honest way in which Yoon sings about his journey as an artist not only through the title track, but with every song (all written by him) on this long-awaited opus. Both his solo release and my thoughts about it are long overdue.
I am a little late in posting news of Winner’s Lee Seunghoon’s enlistment on April 16, 2020 but part of me is still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that 50% of my beloved Winner is now enlisted. Fans knew it was inevitable but as with Jinu, news of Hoony also going still came as a shock.
Being forced to shelter-in-place during what is perhaps turning into one of the most incredible and frightening situations I may see in my lifetime (yes, I am talking about the COVID-19 pandemic) has given me time to reflect on the tumultuous fangirl journey I have been on these past seven years. By the close of 2019, I realized that I had burst through a rather stringent guardrail when it came to Korean entertainment and in particular, Korean music. After my honey baby bias G.O of MBLAQ completed his military service, went from AfreecaTV BJ to YouTuber and yes, even became a husband, I kind of went on a bender. I wanted to write about my explorative fangirl year of 2019 before 2019 ended but failed to actually sit down and do so. Then, I pretty much abandoned the blog altogether. Now that I am in forced lockdown, I really feel the urge to return, show the blog some love, and write again. I have truly missed writing. So, humor me if you will, and let me tell you about my 2019 fangirl adventures (albeit a little late and wordy) and my hopes for 2020.
If you were to ask me one word to describe the Korean group, Winner, I would say FAMILY. I would challenge anyone to show me a closer-knit group. To me, Winner has elevated past the general colleague-based relationship most professional groups have. Moreover, this feeling of family is not exclusive to the group itself. No. I think the group’s fandom Inner Circle would agree that it not only encompasses the relationship Yoon, Jinu, Hoon and Mino have with each other but, that it also extends further to their fans. Winner’s latest, the title track Remember on their newly released full album, brings the family together, soothes my fangirl heart, and waxes nostalgic in a way only Winner can.
It is never easy to say good-bye to our favorite Korean entertainers when they leave to complete mandatory military service, even when we know it is temporary. Winner’s Jinu left for training camp on 2 April and for some reason, it was a lot more emotional than I expected.
I did not see it coming, but am pleasantly surprised and absolutely thrilled. Winner’s demure eldest brother who is nevertheless, and indeed, the thread that binds the group together, has released his first solo single, 또또또 [Call Anytime], and it is every bit as charming as the man himself.
Friends, I’m shook. You know when you listen to a song on an album and yes, it sounds and feels good but you never fully understand the impact of it until you watch and listen to it by way of a live performance? You know, when the visual concept coupled with aggressive choreography, stinging lyrics, and powerful vocals take the song to another level, whisk the group with it and make you pause a moment to say, ‘oh my god, what just happened?!’ This is exactly the mind-blowing experience I had when I watched Winner performed Mola from their latest EP release, We.
I know that Winner is getting ready to drop new music like any second now, but in waiting for new music it is always fortunate when a group or artist has a catalog of exceptional work in place to keep fans satisfied while they wait. In my opinion, one of those past offerings has to be one of the most beautiful love songs ever written but, to my knowledge, never officially released: Kang Seung Yoon’s 0 더하기 1 [0+1] from the web drama series We Broke Up. Seriously. The first time I heard this song was in the context of the drama and it left a deep and emotional impression on me, one that remains to this day.
On May 3rd, YG Entertainment released a comeback teaser photo announcing the release of new music from Winner coming on May 15th!! Wow…the perfect early birthday gift if I do say so myself. Yes, I am a May-baby! As much as I was hoping for a full album release, I am happy to to hear whatever the talented quartet has in store for us. And besides, I am quality over quantity kind of girl.^^ Hmmm, I notice that the 15th is 스승의날, or Teacher’s Day in Korea. Any significance? Probably not…or, perhaps just a lesson in learning that good things happen to those who wait.