We’re not even a full month into 2021, as the dominance of K-pop artists is already rich with content. The energetic JYP Entertainment group ITZY (members include Yeji, Lia, Yuna, Chaeryeong, and Ryujin) is known to illustrate unique styles and sounds, meriting their spot as decorated rookies — and their next wave of music comes in the form of a re-release to prove the group can conquer different genres, choreography, and languages.
ITZY has notoriously achieved unforeseen rookie-group accolades, having one of the most-streamed K-pop tracks of 2020, and forging their path as energetic and confident performers show that earned the group the recognition and love of millions. In order to amplify that already sizable following, they have now come together to revisit their chart-topping tracks in English.
The inevitable expansion of K-pop has obviously become commonplace in pop culture, with the US finally becoming more aware of its influence, and multilingual music feels like a natural progression for artists including JYP’s ITZY and TWICE. The songs on the album titled Not Shy: (English Ver.) include four prior massive hit singles, “DALLA DALLA,” “ICY,” “WANNABE,” and the more recent track, “Not Shy” with a new, exciting perspective on songs that fans have already fallen for. This revisited music remains true to the wholesome messages of ITZY’s upbeat and dance-heavy confidence boosters we’re hooked on, which also demonstrates how hard they’ve worked to maintain their rookie-drive while facing new challenges.
After previewing the top-notch English album, we spoke to ITZY about integrating English into their day-to-day lives while working on the songs, and the process of working on revisiting their hit singles with a twist.
You’ve released so many strong tracks since your debut in 2019 — and now you have had the opportunity to re-record these songs in English. What was it like to return to your singles in a way that’s new to the group?
Yeji: First of all, I was really grateful that we’re able to make an English album with our songs. Though the songs have the same melodies and meanings, it was interesting to see how they sound different in English. Also, I realized that the way we sing has been changed a little since we first recorded “DALLA DALLA” and “ICY.”
Lia: It was a very fun and good experience. I have always thought that it would be great if we release an English album, so I had lots of fun while recording it.
Chaeryeong: I think it was a very good opportunity as an artist. It reminded me of many good memories we had when we first recorded the songs.
I personally struggle with one language as-is, so I have to point out that this is an impressive accomplishment as an artist! When you decided to take on this English release, would you say it was pure excitement or were there any nerves behind this new experience too?
Ryujin: It was definitely a challenge for us, but at the same time, we thought that it would be cool if our songs were also in English!
Yuna: I was mostly very excited and happy because I thought that we could get closer to our global MIDZY with this English album! That made me motivated to keep working hard.
When you decided to revisit these songs, was there anything else, in particular, you wanted to try differently?
Lia: I wanted to express and show the charms that our original versions have, so I tried hard not to change it much.
Ryujin: Since there are so many ways to express each part, I wanted to show different vibes in the English versions of the songs.
Chaeryeong: I paid attention to make some parts catchy and sound better in English. For instance, I accentuated certain words.
It was recently announced that “WANNABE” was No. 10 on the Top Streamed K-Pop Songs Globally on Spotify, which is such an exciting achievement! You’ve also won multiple awards for each album cycle — so when you experience these major moments, how do you typically celebrate?
Yeji: When we hear somethings incredibly good, we rather stay calm and feel proud. It’s not that we’re not excited, but just we cannot believe it’s real! We’re so thankful that so many people love our song “WANNABE,” and also thankful for those who love ITZY’s other songs as well. We will do our best!
Ryujin: Actually, we don’t usually throw a party or do anything special, but all of us feel very proud!
Yuna: When something amazing like this happens, we always say, “It’s unbelievable, amazing… we have to keep working hard to return the love!” Again, thank you so much, MIDZY, for your support and love! It means the world!
You’re coming up on two years together and you’ve already done so much, but what are some of your hopes as a group for the future?
Yeji: My biggest goal is to be remembered as an artist by many people. We will continue to work hard to be a group that can make people happy. I also hope all ITZY members look back on this time in the future and remember it as happy days of our lives. I’m so excited to make more of those moments together!
Lia: I hope that we can stay the same, and I wish all of our members to stay healthy and happy.
Yuna: I wish I could always be with MIDZY even in the future. I also want to become an artist who inspires people and shares good energy!
Yeji, I’ve noticed you really fit the role of leader because you have that generous quality where you look out for people. What’s it like now that you have so many people (MIDZY) constantly checking in on you and making sure you are taking care of yourself the way you are used to doing for your members?
Yeji: I do not think I am really the “leader” of other members, as it is quite the opposite. Other members take care of me! It’s so funny how we can understand each other without talking now. I am just so thankful that I have such great friends and fans who always understand me and stand by me. I sometimes think that I want to become a stronger person so that I can protect the people I love. Thank you, MIDZY, for making me feel loved!
Yuna, you seem to be a refreshing source of entertainment for your fellow members and I enjoyed your story behind choosing Hussey as your English name, but I’ve seen a few different times where the group has found amusement in your choice. Have you been able to get them to come around to Hussey or is that still a work in progress?
Yuna: I came up with the name, Hussey, as a casual nickname; but it seems like Hussey has become my English name. Other members are now OK with the name, Hussey!
Lia, considering you were already fluent in English, did you find yourself helping the other members through the process of this release?
Lia: All of our members studied English very hard. They really tried to use English in their daily lives and wouldn’t stop asking me questions. I was happy to help them out.
Ryujin, what did you find was different about rapping in English as opposed to Korean now that you’ve officially done songs in both languages?
Ryujin: Pronunciation was the biggest difference. There are different charming points in the two languages, so I tried to show the unique charming points of English this time.
Chaeryeong, you’ve been in the industry for a long time and have shown so much drive towards music and dance. What advice would you give an aspiring artist?
Chaeryeong: I feel I’m not fully qualified to give any advice to others yet. However, if I have to, I will say, trust, believe, and love yourself! I’m rooting for you!
ITZY’s English album is officially out now, so make sure to check out these women who represent the next generation of talent. Stream on all platforms here.