By Chung Joo-won
SEOUL, June 11 (Yonhap) — Junsu of South Korean pop trio JYJ said on Saturday he is not afraid of going against the seasonal trends of the K-pop market, since making a unique album is the only way he can match his fans’ support.
“Every time I release an album, I try to differentiate it from my previous albums, and stay away from putting up similar work with slightly different songs,” he said during a news conference for his fourth and latest full-length album “XIGNATURE.”
“Showing different performances in different work is my way of appreciating the people who come see me every time (I release new work),” continued the singer, also known by his full name Kim Jun-su and stage name Xia Junsu.
The South Korean heartthrob said he insisted on packing “XIGNATURE” with 13 songs, significantly more than the usual size of a full K-pop album.
“(Stuffed) albums may be far from the current market trend, but I know my album — I stuffed my album as I always have,” the 29-year-old singer grinned.
“Every single piece of the 13 songs deserves to be a lead song of ‘XIGNATURE.'”
Yet the album did not entirely ignore market trends, he said. Although he explicitly proffered dance songs to impress concertgoers, he also tried to keep some ballads in the new album to reflect the pro-ballad atmosphere among K-pop fans.
“I was impressed that many of you fell for sweet ballads, like ‘How Can I Love You’ that I sang for the drama ‘Descendants of the Sun.’ I tried to reflect your preference for ballads in the new album, as you’ll see in ‘Is You.'”
The media event was held 90 minutes before his first solo concert in the Gymnastics Arena of Olympic Stadium in southeastern Seoul — a popularity gouge for all K-pop singers. With the two-hour concert, Junsu kicked off his Asia tour in eight major cities in South Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Thailand.
About 8,000 concertgoers from home and overseas swarmed the venue.
“I am grateful for the people who have trusted in my album and my concerts, especially when I make almost zero appearances in the (televised music) shows. It’s simply incredible.”
While engaging in frequent overseas activities, Junsu has developed a special habit — taking a relaxing half-body bath.
“It’s something that I do only when I am out in foreign countries. Here I have so much to do, many friends to hang out with and fun games to play. But in hotels, I have nothing to do except take baths and prepare for the performance.”
When asked about the toughest challenge he faces in overseas performances, he picked “staging wild dance stages in the mountainous highlands of Mexico” while suffering from mountain sickness.
In the first concert of his Asia tour, the man-of-humor knew how to bring his fans to screams of laughter on the stage.
The arena was thronged with flaming red lights, the signature color of Junsu, as the Asia star turned on the stage with “Feels Like Paradise,” a dance song from his third full-length album “FLOWER.”
Throughout the 17 songs that he staged in the Seoul concert, his fans greeted Junsu’s new album in 15 months with a wild ovation, waving round light sticks.
In the first of three sessions, Junsu rocked the stage with mostly dance songs in a tight black low V-neck shirt and leather slacks. As he appeared on the aerial stage, it turned into a massive mix of ear-popping boom boxes and showers of blue and white light.
Finishing up the second song, “Break My Heart” from “XIGNATURE,” Junsu was all about pulling his fans’ legs.
“I’m seeing far more numbers of men at my concert — what’s going on?”
The singer, who doubles as a star musical player, put up a total of four between-the-stage talk sessions to entertain the audience. The concert talk sessions are a daunting mission for all solo performers, but not for Junsu, who casually threw questions to individual fans at the farthest end of the dome.
The second session of the concert was loaded with four ballads from “XIGNATURE,” including “Is You.”
One of the highlights of the session was the “as you wish” corner, in which Junsu did requested favors for his fans. Some favors, such as wearing a bunny ear hairband and reading out “declaration of a cute man,” he did only with much reluctance.
One of Junsu’s male fans, who will soon have to serve his compulsory military duty, sent the singer an eccentric gift: a flowery pillow for contemplation and a letter. After reading the letter aloud, which said, “Dear fairy, please take a relaxing break with this contemplation music,” Junsu burst into laughter and struck back by saying, “Dude, you go and wait in the military camp, and we’ll talk.”
The concert blasted into a frenzy in the third session, when Junsu “flew” around the arena on a wired swing while performing “Magic Carpet.” The singer then hopped down onto the stage, carried all the way from one end to the other in flashes of limelight.
With many genres and cross-genres under his belt, Junsu ventured to an impressive mix of jazz, tango and pop, which strongly pointed at his musical career.
The most powerful dance-pop stage came with “Tarantallegra,” the title song of Junsu’s first solo full-length album of the same name.
“Rock the World,” the lead song of “XIGNATURE,” showed an exotic blend of dance pop, hip hop and musical, perfected by some 20 backup dancers.
Towards the end of the concert, Junsu thanked the fans, calling them his “source of energy and strength that keeps him from losing out.”
“I have this feeling that I’ll be able to make a fabulous Asia tour,” he said.