K-Pop Boy Band Pentagon Talk Making It With 'Shine' & Songwriting

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(L-R) Hong Seok, Jin Ho, Hui, Yan An, Yeo One, Shin Won, E Dawn, Kino, Woo Seok and Yuto of Pentagon pose at KCON Day 1 2018 NY presented by Toyota at Prudential Center on June 23, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey. 

Every year, there are a few songs that define each genre, and the first half of 2018 saw Pentagons “Shine” become one of the biggest K-pop tracks of the year.   

A two-year-old boy band featuring 10 members, the song fronted April's Positive, the sixth Korean EP release from the group. It proved to be a sleeper hit in the fast-paced Korean music industry, and ended up peaking on South Korea’s Gaon chart at No. 27 in May; it similarly went up to No. 10 on the World Digital Song Sales chart.     

“Shine” proved to be a bright moment for the act, igniting interest ahead of their appearance at KCON 2018 NY on June 23. “I think people liked it because we enjoyed our music and we performed it well,” suggests Hongseok, talking to Billboard ahead of their Prudential Center performance where the group delivered a rousing rendition of “Shine” amid their multi-song set. “I think our performances and this song suited our dancing very well.”   

The group’s breakout single was, like many others, co-written by Hui and E'Dawn with frequent collaborating production team Flow Blow; rappers Yuto and Wooseok also were credited with writing the song’s lyrics. According to the Korea Copyright Music Association, E'Dawn is credited with writing 35 songs and Hui, 20. Along with their work as part of Pentagon and Triple H -- a trio with Cube Entertainment labelmate HyunA --, the pair became renowned primarily for working on "Never," which came out of last year's competition show Produce 101 and landed at No. 2 on the Gaon weekly chart; Wooseok and Flow Blow are also credited on that track.

“Pentagon’s songs and another group or another singer’s songs are different,” says Hui of his writing process. “When I write for Pentagon, the things that I think about are the very specific words and topics that I think suit Pentagon. It’s a lot more fun, and I go about it a lot more easily when it’s for the team.”

Several other members of the group also write even if they're less prominent, adds Jinho. “For me, I look to songs that would be fun to perform and sing as a group when we’re performing at a concert. I also want to write musical styles that haven’t been in our previous albums.”

“Shine” came at a time when the group needed it most: Aside from some members gaining prominence for their songwriting, overall Pentagon hadn’t seen much recognition for any of their previous singles. Several members had even appeared in the second season of the South Korean television show Hello, My Twenties! (also known as Age of Youth) as the failed fictional K-pop boy band Asgard. “It’s a positive thing that it didn’t become a reality for us,” says Shinwon. “As we were filming, even though it was acting, when we actually had to act it out it was very hard for us. As a team, we’re very glad that the very opposite happened for Pentagon.”  

The boy band will be appearing Stateside again in August, when they’ll be performing at the Staples Center as part of the KCON 2018 LA lineup. It’s unclear whether they’ll have any new music ready to share with the west coast audience, but Kino is sure that there will be something soon. ”I think we are trying to make our color and identity, so our writers, songwriters in our members are writing very good songs now to our next release,” he says.