ENHYPEN brings the hype with debut

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With the rise in popularity of South Korean pop music, more commonly known as K-pop, it’s no surprise that newly formed groups are gaining support quickly and setting new records. ENHYPEN (also known as EN-) is a Korean boy group that debuted this past November and was formed by Belift Lab, a collaboration between well-known South Korean entertainment companies CJ E&M and BigHit Entertainment. The seven members of ENHYPEN, Heeseung, Jay, Jake, Sunghoon, Sunoo, Jungwon, and Ni-Ki, all are between 15 and 19 years old. ENGENEs, or ENHYPEN fans, are from all over the world, ranging from young to old, and of all different races, ethnicities, and genders.

The band was formed through a competitive survival show called I-Land, which aired from June to September of 2020. In the competition, 23 trainees competed for a spot in the debuting boy group over the course of twelve episodes with mentors from BigHit Entertainment. The first half of the show featured four performance missions carried out by those part of  “I-Land” (selected trainees who received higher ranks in performance that have a chance to debut and have the larger training facility) and “Ground” (trainees who ranked lower in song performances, are in danger of elimination, and have a smaller practice room). Concluding part one, the I-Landers and producers voted to determine which six members were guaranteed to pass to the next round with the other six eliminated having to go with the grounders and wait for the results of global voting. The six I-Landers that passed were K, Heeseung, Jay, Jake, Sunghoon, and Jungwon and the other six chosen d by global voting were Hanbin, Geonu, Sunoo, Ta-ki, Ni-Ki, and Daniel.

 The second part of I-Land consisted of themes for each of the four weekly challenges. The first episode of this segment included a visit from BTS, a Korean boy band under BigHit Entertainment with global influence. Senior Christine Xu said that she loved the part where BTS gave advice to the trainees: “They lightened up the mood and gave a lot of helpful advice, like when they talked about how attractiveness is determined by how one carries him or herself.” After each weekly challenge, one member of the show was eliminated. At the end of the show, the members of the new K-pop boy group were decided through global votes as well as producer votes. The debuting members that were chosen through global vote were Heeseung, Ni-Ki, Jake, Jay, Jungwon, and Sunghoon. The ENHYPEN member determined through producer vote was Sunoo, which eliminated popular fan favorites, K and Daniel.

On November 30 ENHYPEN released their debut album, Border : Day One.  Ranging from mysterious, thrilling beats to songs with uplifting, peppy melodies, the album features six songs: “Intro: Walk the Line,” “Given-Taken,” “Let Me in (20 CUBE),” “10 Months,” “Flicker,” and “Outro: Cross the Line.”

1. Intro: Walk the Line

The introduction to the album starts with a voice-over by Australian Jake Shim. His accent is prominent in the song and is one of the fans’ favorite traits. The voice-over is backed by an instrumental track and interrupted momentarily by a chorus singing “camminare sulla linea,” an Italian phrase meaning “walk the line.” The voice-over is resumed and is soon followed by the members singing in Korean. “I loved the intro immediately when I first heard the snippet of it prior to its release,” said Christine. “It sounded very nostalgic and inspiring. It made me think of how the times we’re going through right now are hard, but we continue walking, even if it’s into the unknown.”

2. Given-Taken

The title track of ENHYPEN’s debut album shows how their debut breaks the common K-pop stereotypes of energetic or cute concepts for debut songs and instead begins with a vampire-style concept. The music video is similar to a Japanese anime called The Promised Neverland. This concept, in addition to the elaborate effects and additional eerie music at the end of the video, gives the video a horror and thriller feel. “It was refreshing to see something new unlike the usual cute/innocent concept or more hardcore concept,” said sophomore Adeebah Zaman. However, the song and its lyrics give a different meaning and take. According to a press conference held by BELIFT Lab, representatives of the entertainment company stated that the song was describing whether the members’ debut was “given” to them or if they have “taken” the opportunity on their own. 

3. Let Me In (20 CUBE)

This upbeat song is about opening the hearts of the listener and letting the members into the world of the listener. Although it features a catchy beat, the lyrics incorporate snippets of ENHYPEN’s debut concept of horror as they sing about giving their listeners their love and blood. This slowed yet lively beat gives a perfect transition to the next dynamic song in the album, “10 Months.”

4. 10 Months

The fourth song in the album, “10 Months,” is a sharp contrast to the title track “Given-Taken”. It adopts a more cheerful melody with lyrics about a growing love and an ability to protect and care, while still maintaining a relatively simple yet detailed choreography. This song steers away from ENHYPEN’s thriller concept and reveals the youthful energy of the group and perfectly fits the bubbliness of the members. Sophomore Vicky Sun said, “My favorite [song] is ‘10 Months’ because I found the beat very catchy and I feel like there’s a significant meaning toward ‘10 Months,’ but I’m not too sure what it is. Based on the English translation of ‘10 Months,’ the song was meant to show they grew (physically and mentally) a lot from I-Land and they have so much potential to show the world.” 

5. Flicker

If you have watched I-Land, you will definitely recognize this song. “Flicker” was sung by five I-Land contestants in a unit mission in episode 9 of part 2. In ENHYPEN’s new album, “Flicker” is sung in a higher octave with new backing vocals added. While the choreography and song lyrics from the album’s version of “Flicker” remain the same as the show’s version of “Flicker,” the song is at a pitch that leads away from the original “sexy” and “mysterious” vibes and gets rid of a lot of the charm from the original in order to fit the concept of ENHYPEN rather than I-Land and the original I-Lander who performed “Flicker,” K.  Many fans expressed their excitement over the release of “Flicker” on an official album, while others were upset over the release of a song that was popularized by eliminated contestant, K.  The song pitch also makes it difficult to distinguish the unique tones of each ENHYPEN member. 

6. Outro: Cross the Line

The outro for ENHYPEN’s debut album begins with another English narration, this time from ENHYPEN’s Jay. It is accompanied by the minor key of a waltz melody. The music is chilling, and the addition of accordions adds to the hair-raising tune. The narration is continued by Jake, with the tune in the background. The melody then ascends into a major key and more instruments are added to the music. Later in the song, the tone takes a darker turn as vocals are added to a minor key, giving the song a horror movie feel. This gives a major contrast to the song’s previous tone as well as the intro song to the album. The sudden tone change symbolizes the loss of innocence as the band goes from the safety of their normal lives to the competitive and ruthless nature of the music industry.

Currently, the album is a smash hit, with sales surpassing 290,000 copies on Hanteo, and over five million streams on Spotify alone. Additionally, “Given-Taken” has more than 18 million views on Youtube. During the 2020 Fact Music Awards (FMAs), ENHYPEN won their first award, the Next Leader Award, just 12 days after they debuted. The group was also invited to many variety shows, music awards shows, and even radio shows. 

ENHYPEN continues to spread their music and talents globally, with a one-of-a-kind debut title track concept, and many records broken early in their career. ENHYPEN’s accomplishments truly show the power behind the new fourth-generation K-pop group as well as the globalization of K-pop. Whether you are already a K-pop fan or not, ENHYPEN’s music is worth a listen.