Kang Daniel's post-Covid era is looking bright
Kang Daniel is back with a special story.
The singer will drop his new album “The Story” on Tuesday at 6 p.m. This is the former boy band Wanna One member’s first full-length album in two years and 10 months, as well as his first music in 13 months since his last EP “Yellow.”
During his break from music, Kang has been active as a television host and actor, starring in shows such as Mnet’s dance competition “Street Woman Fighter” (2021) and the Disney+ series “Rookie Cops” (2022).
“In ‘The Story,’ I wanted to honestly talk about myself,” Kang said during a press conference held at the InterContinental Grand Seoul Parnas in southern Seoul’s Gangnam. He introduced his album which consists of 10 tracks and features artists Jessi, Sokodomo, Dbo and Chancellor.
“I expressed the journey I’ve had so far like a novel. I thought about what the concept of this album is, but I don’t think it’s really about a concept. Each track is simply my story.”
Kang debuted in 2017 after winning first place on Mnet’s hit idol audition show “Produce 101.” He and ten other finalists formed the project boy band Wanna One, which disbanded in early 2019. The singer reminisced that his solo career afterward did not always go smoothly.
“My solo debut EP ‘Color on Me’ came out during difficult times [Kang was in legal disputes with his former agency],” he said. “I wanted it to come out quickly and let my fans know I was doing alright. Everything was done as quickly as possible and I couldn’t put in as much thought as I wanted to. Afterward, I got to think about what I want to show as a singer, and I think I got those thoughts sorted out within myself.
“So many things have happened over the past three years, and not every moment was happy, but I am proud. A full-length album is a milestone for every singer, and this feels like an award I’m giving myself. I rarely say that I’m ‘satisfied’ with my work, but I think this album is my first time saying that I’m satisfied."
The lead track “Upside Down” is a medium-tempo track with bubbly lyrics about turning a bad day into a positive one. Its neon-filled music video shows off Kang’s B-boy moves and street fashion style, returning to the singer’s roots.
“On some days, nothing goes my way. It’s a cute song about wanting to turn around days like that, although personally, I just give up on days like that,” the singer laughed. “There’s nothing I can do, so I just let that day be. I think this song is my way of saying ‘oh, whatever!’ to days like that.’
“I actually didn’t plan to do B-boying for this album,” he added. “I hadn’t done it ever since the audition [for ‘Produce 101’]. But we thought about how we can visually express being upside down, and the director of the music video suggested that B-boy elements would work well. I think I’ll be able to show my B-boying to the audience on music programs this time. I haven’t done it in a long time because it’s easy to get injured while B-boying, and it leaves a lot of bruises on my body, which can be a problem when I’m wearing short sleeves. But it’s worth it if my fans enjoy it.”
The bright lyrics and melody are a transformation from Kang’s previous release “Yellow” (2021), which sings about his anxiety and mental struggles as a star. The singer shared that the dark theme and the pandemic has been taking a toll on him, but “The Story” marks a new post-Covid era for him.
"They weren’t really happy topics to talk about,” he said. “Especially because of Covid-19, I had to perform in front of empty seats. During live performances, there used to be a lot of fans and light sticks in front of me, which looked like stars. But looking at the empty seats felt like staring into a dark river, which was so depressing and hard to feel energetic for. After that, I wondered what kind of music I can do while enjoying myself without any worries. The dancers in the music video, with whom I’ve been working with for a long time, told me that I suit bright songs better.
“I think I’m excited because it’s brighter music this time and it’s my first full-length, but the biggest factor is that I can perform in front of fans again. One little spoiler is that because this is a full-length album, my onstage performances match. That’s all I can share!”
BY HALEY YANG [email@example.com]