Last year, SuperM notched a huge win when their self-titled “mini album” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The K-pop supergroup -- which consists of members of EXO, SHINee, NCT 127 and WayV -- had generated a huge amount of buzz before releasing a single track thanks to its star-studded lineup, and with the No. 1 bow, SuperM was off to an explosive start.
With Super One, the group’s first full-length out Friday (Sept. 25), SuperM continues its positive momentum. The hopeful, hook-stuffed album allows all seven members of SuperM to shine, while also expanding the group’s pop aesthetic and finding the right balance between singing and rapping. Songs like “Wish You Were Here,” “Better Days” and lead single “100” demonstrate SuperM’s dexterity -- and even though it’s still uncertain when their global fans will be able to see the songs performed live, the collective sounds prepared to put on an eclectic, wide-ranging show with these tracks.
Ahead of their new album’s release, the members of SuperM answered 20 questions about their musical backgrounds, leaning on each other during the pandemic, the highlights of Super One and more:
1. What’s the first piece of music that you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?
BAEKHYUN: An Avril Lavigne CD. I really liked her music when I was young so I remember going to a CD store with my brother to buy her album.
2. What was the first concert you saw?
KAI: I remember I went to my first concert when I was 16 years old. This was Usher’s concert when he came to Korea. Seeing him perform onstage inspired me to work harder towards my dream to become an artist like him. I still can’t forget the energy and the vibe of people around me and remember wanting to perform on a big stage like that.
3. Who made you realize you could be an artist full-time?
TAEMIN: My mom was the first person actually. When I was very young, she saw how much I enjoyed singing and dancing and encouraged me to audition. Since then, I started moving towards my dream to become an artist and performer. She helped me discover my passion at an early age and encouraged me to do what I love, and for that, I’m forever grateful.
4. What’s at the top of your professional bucket list?
TAEYONG: I just want everyone I work with to be happy, and work together for a long time. This includes not just SuperM members, but also the rest of the staff and the team behind the scenes that make it all happen!
5. How did your hometown/city shape who you are?
MARK: I think everyone is influenced by their hometown and where they come from. It’s really special to be a K-pop artist and perform in front of fans in Canada, where I’m from. When we performed in my hometown during the world tour earlier this year, it was such a significant “homecoming” moment for me. Canada always has a special place in my heart.
6. What’s the last song you listened to?
LUCAS: The last song I listened to is Justin Bieber’s new song, “Holy.” It’s a great song to listen to when you are feeling tired. I listen to it on repeat when I’m on the move during the day and it puts me in a good mood.
7. If you could see any artist in concert, dead or alive, who would it be?
TEN: I would choose Michael Jackson, because I always regret that I didn’t get to see him perform onstage live. I look up to him as an artist, and I’d love to see him sing and dance live at one of his concerts.
8. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen happen in the crowd of one of your shows?
MARK: Well, one thing that happens at every show is how emotional I get seeing the venue packed with our fans. Before going onstage, I always take a peek at the audience from behind the curtain, and it’s hard to describe the exact feeling in words but it feels surreal — too good to be true, almost. Especially for a standing audience, it’s not easy standing for hours straight in a tight space, but their energy never goes down. I never feel tired onstage because of them. It’s still pretty crazy to me to see and feel their energy every time. I miss them!
9. How has the pandemic affected the way you’ve created music in 2020?
BAEKHYUN: The process of creating music, writing and recording songs, was pretty much the same. However, planning the album promotion during pandemic was a little different, since everything had to be done online. We had to think of fun and unique ways to interact with our fans, from creating our own reality show to holding livestream, AR tech-based concerts. We have a lot more creative content in store for our fans, so stay tuned!
10. What was your reaction to SuperM’s mini album topping the Billboard 200 chart last year?
KAI: Everyone was super happy. We put our heart and soul into the album and worked really hard on it, so in a way, we were looking forward to the results. When we saw that the EP hit number one on the chart, it was one of the happiest moments of our career.
11. What’s the biggest difference, creatively speaking, between last year’s mini album and Super One?
TEN: The mini album was more about introducing SuperM and our SMP-style performances, whereas for Super One, it shows more of our different musical styles and really brings out the dynamic qualities that we possess as a group. So, to put it simply, Super One is the completed version/look of SuperM. Also, what was important for us when creating this album was to include a message of hope and deliver that positivity and strength to listeners. Music can really lift your spirits when you’re feeling down, so I hope people find healing and happiness while listening to our music. That would make us very happy.
12. Why did “100” make the most sense as a lead single?
TAEYONG: “100” is all about speed and energy, so it’s the perfect single to showcase SuperM’s power as the opening act of Super One. It also helps convey the message that we are always moving forward at full-speed, giving our 100% in all we do.
13. What’s one song on the album that you suspect will be a big fan favorite?
LUCAS: I think fans will like “Better Days.” It’s a nice ballad song for a great start to your day. It also contains a message of comfort and empathy to help get through these difficult times. We hope our fans can feel the warmth of this messaging through our vocals and fluid rapping.
14. How has the group bonded during what’s been a wild 2020?
TAEMIN: We’ve been through a lot and have always been there for each other through thick and thin so naturally, we’ve gotten very close. They’re like family now. We didn’t have to “try” to become close, it just naturally happened -- as if we were destined to be in the same group.
15. SuperM has been part of a massive year for the global expansion of K-pop. How does it feel to see so many K-pop songs, albums and artists setting records?
MARK: This makes me really proud. I remember growing up in Canada, a lot of people at my school didn’t know K-pop. It was mainly just popular among Koreans. Now, so many people all over the world know about it and K-pop is getting so much attention. I feel honored and proud to be a part of this movement. Bringing the two cultures closer together and building that bridge through music is such a historic moment, and I can’t wait to contribute more to it and create great music for listeners worldwide.
16. What’s your go-to song that you’ve been singing along to lately?
BAEKHYUN: These days, I have Eric Benet’s “Still with You” on repeat, so I’ve been singing this a lot lately. This was one of my favorite songs in high school, and ever since I started spending more time at home, I’ve been revisiting some of my old favorite playlists. They bring me back to that moment when I was in school, aspiring to become an artist.
17. What movie, or song, always makes you cry?
TEN: This always changes, but when I can empathize with the characters in a movie or connect with the emotions in a song, it makes me cry. I recently cried watching the animated film, Grave of the Fireflies. I watched this for the first time when I was young, but re-watching it as an adult touched me in a different way.
18. If you were not a musician, what would you be?
LUCAS: If not a musician, I’d probably be a firefighter – a job that saves other people’s lives is truly inspiring to me. But if not a firefighter, I’d definitely choose a career that make people happy, just like what I try to do now through music and performing.
19. What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
KAI: I would tell my younger self to take care of yourself and stay healthy, because health is so important! I would also tell him not to be so hard on himself and enjoy the ride as a young teenager. This is the time for having fun and trying different things! Back then, I was so focused on my career and working towards my dreams that I didn’t spend a lot of time doing “regular teenager experiences,” which I wish I did more of!
20. What’s your message to fans who have been supporting SuperM -- and waiting for this album to arrive?
TAEMIN: It’s been almost a year now since our debut, and we are incredibly grateful to have so many fans cheer us on. We put our heart and soul into the album knowing that our fans have been waiting for a long time. While we’re sad that that we can’t meet them in person, we hope they can feel the positive energy through our songs and performances.