At a ‘Crossroads,’ GFriend returns
On Monday, six young women took the stage full of energy, but sporting a maturity that many of their fans had never seen before. Girl group GFriend dropped its eighth EP “Labyrinth” on Monday, the group’s first release since its agency Source Music was acquired by Big Hit Entertainment - home to K-pop megastar BTS.
“Producer Bang Si-hyuk [head of Big Hit Entertainment] and the other producers within the company helped us with not just the music, but making the album, the photos and the videos,” said Umji. “They helped us throughout the process of making all the contents, which I think has made every part of the album more organically unified and rich.”
Leader Sowon added, “We haven’t been able to meet him in person yet. But we were told that he said ‘GFriend has something that no one else does.’ That’s given us the boost that we need and made us feel like we should really try harder.”
Rather than highlighting their youth, the girls show off a more powerful side on “Labyrinth.” All the songs on the EP are all related to that narrative, whereas in the past their albums were focused on shedding light on the group’s diversity.
“We’ve always given our best with every song on each release, and we’re proud of that. But this album particularly has a single narrative that all the songs follow. I think it makes the album special in that way,” Umji said.
The six-track EP is led by “Crossroads,” a synth pop dance track with powerful string sounds that adds an emotional touch to the track. It talks about the crucial moments young people face in their lives, where they must look back at their life and ultimately make a choice about the future. Whether to stop here or move forward, and if so, where? The song sheds light on the complex emotions of being young.
“A girl is in the crossroads of choice. Does she stop or does she go? Her mind is separated into different paths. This song expresses that,” Yuju said. Eunha added, “You have to watch out for the performance that goes well with the title and lyrics of the song.”
Also included are the title track, “Here We Are,” and “Eclipse,” “Dreamcatcher” and “From Me.” The members recommended “Labyrinth” as well as “Here We Are.”
“The song shows how one’s self comes in conflict with the mind that wants to stay within the labyrinth and the one that wants to get out. The choreography also shows that as well,” said Yerin. SinB added that the choreography for “Labyrinth” is the group’s “most powerful yet,” saying, “The performance is almost like a musical. It almost tells the same story as the lyrics.”
Leader Sowon said that “Here We Are” is a song she’d to one day like to perform at a concert.
In a first for the group, the music video for “Crossroads” doesn’t include any choreography. The clip follows a story in which each of the six members look back on their past.
GFriend made its debut in 2015 with “Glass Bead,” and has since released hits like “Me gustas tu” (2015), “Rough” (2016), “Navillera” (2016) and “Sunrise” (2019).
To help fans catch up on the group’s history, Source Music and Big Hit Entertainment created a special video titled “A Tale of the Glass Bead: Previous Story,” which is a compilation of the music videos of the group’s hit songs since its debut.
“It’s a video that foretells a coming-of-age story for GFriend,” said Umji. “It shows how the six ordinary girls stuck together happily just like everyone else. By showing the past, it also starts a new story.”
GFriend was featured in the 2019 BBC documentary “K-Pop Idols: Inside the Hit Factory,” evidence of the growing interest in Korea’s unique music industry following the success of BTS.
“To think that other countries were also interested in K-pop was really touching,” said SinB while discussing the group’s experience during the shoot.
“We are grateful for all the love for K-pop. As part of the K-pop world, we promise to show you a better side of ourselves,” said Yerin.
BY YOON SO-YEON [email@example.com]