2012 was a spectacular year for K-pop boy band INFINITE. The group embarked on their first tours in Korea and Japan, reached 160,000 members in their official fan club "Inspirit," and by the end of the year, Billboard.com was so impressed by the seven-member group and their latest single, "The Chaser," that it was chosen as the No. 1 K-Pop Song of 2012.
INFINITE's popularity is massively growing in both Korea and Japan, but their megastar status didn't come overnight. The group's 2010 debut effort "Come Back Again" was met with a lukewarm response and they remained relatively unknown until the release of their second EP. With a new concept and rekindled spirit to prove themselves, the group included a highly-technical "scorpion dance" on their dramatic single "BTD" (Before The Dawn) that soon drew more and more eyes to the rookie group.
In October 2011, the group propelled into super-stardom with breakout single, "Be Mine," a modernized '80s Euro-pop track with a catchy and heart-grabbing hook. The group's success has since grown exponentially.
INFINITE soon expanded their popularity to Japan drawing in a total of 74,000 fans to their recent arena tour. They continued their supremacy by releasing more hits to add to their catalog, including "Paradise" and "The Chaser" back in their home country.
Still all the success didn't stop the group from broadening their musical horizons: Leader Sunggyu released his first solo album, "Another Me," in November 2012, and Hoya and Dongwoo's created a sub-unit group, INFINITE-H, and released their "Fly High" mini-album this month. INFINITE-H's first single "Special Girl" is currently at No. 8 at on the K-Pop Hot 100.
With their audience increasing by the day, the boys welcomed 2013 by visiting Billboard Korea's studio for an exclusive interview to kick off Billboard.com's new K-pop column "K-Town."
Watch the video above to get a behind-the-scenes look at the photoshoot and interview plus INFINITE's thoughts on "The Chaser," information on their new album, American artists they'd like to collaborate with, and more!
"The Chaser" was selected as the No.1 K-pop song of 2012 by Billboard. What was your reaction when you first heard the news? What can you say about "The Chaser"?
We were absolutely blown away when we first heard about it through the news. One of the members said, "We are this year's No.1 on Billboard" and the rest of us thought it was a mean joke. We were more surprised because we've never been to the States and never sang an English-language song. We didn't know how to take it, but nonetheless we were very happy. We are incredibly honored! We are grateful that our song was the selected as the best K-pop song of 2012.
"The Chaser's" best quality is that it has almost no English lyrics. It is a song that best represents Korean sentiments. We think the song fits the flow of today's music trend where K-pop is becoming a worldwide sensation. We're not saying other songs are not Korean, but "The Chaser" emphasizes on Korean vibes as it incorporates Korean folk song lyrics like "Uh-gi-ya Di-yuh-rah-cha" along with "Eh eh eh" in the melody line.
Last year, INFINITE not only captured the attention of the masses with your music, but also with acts like embarking on a daring, one-day nationwide tour -- even mobilizing a helicopter for it! What is it like looking back at 2012?
Sungjong: Last year, we successfully concluded our tour both in Korea and Japan, which allowed us to experience so many different things. Meeting our fans in various cities made us realize how much more effort we have to put in for our upcoming shows, and we learned to always give our utmost best in anything that we do. We were really happy during our tour. We are extremely happy because of all the love we have been receiving.