Chung Ha Talks Starting Off 2019 with 'Gotta Go' & Goals for the New Year

Chung Ha
Courtesy of MNH Entertainment

Chung Ha

Back in 2016, K-pop soloist Chung Ha got her start as a member of I.O.I, a temporary girl group formed through the television show Produce 101. Since then, she’s become one of South Korea’s most promising pop goddesses. 2018 saw her top charts with singles like “Roller Coaster” and “Love U” while exploring her sonic style, which leans heavily into tropical house, through multiple collaborations. At the start of 2019, she’s ready to take the world on and change how she’s been doing things, which is why she started the new year off with the release of “Gotta Go (Already Midnight)” today (Jan. 2).

“A summer vibe me was there during 2018, and sparkly Chung Ha was there, but this time it’s very different. I don’t have all that glitter,” Chung Ha tells Billboard over the phone ahead of the single’s release. “This is more of my personal style, I guess. I wanted to go very dark. There’s a very different side of me so I’m excited to show that to fans.”

“Gotta Go” certainly moves Chung Ha into a more sultry place than her past singles with its vibrant flute sounds and squelching synths acting as a backdrop to her rich vocals. It’s paired with a music video that is less girlish than her prior ones, replacing the aforementioned sparkles and glitter (though not entirely) with mature, bolder looks, like power shoulders and smokey eye and lip hues. Choreography-wise, things similarly shift away from the past, with the emphasis being on theatrical elements like hand moves emulating a clock striking midnight and intense floorwork.  

For Chung Ha, the performance and style elements play as big of a role for her in shaping her artistry as her music does. “The visual part is very important to me because it kind of stands out with my music. As the music changes, the looks change so that goes a long way.”

Starting off 2019 strong with a directional shift makes Chung Ha a bit nervous the singer admits, but is also something she’s immensely “comfortable” with and hopes her audience will grow used to. “It was kind of like I was waiting for this song to come along,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to do one of these concepts, and the song came and I listened to it and it was all, ‘Oh, this is it! This is the best thing I’ve ever heard.’ I was ready to go.”  

Though “Gotta Go” shows something new of Chung Ha, it also marks her return to collaborating with Black Eyed Pilseung and Jeon Goon, the team behind last year’s hit “Roller Coaster.”

As she moves forward in her career, and into 2019, Chung Ha hopes that “Gotta Go” will start a new era of her trying out different things. Since being in I.O.I, where she considered herself a “half-rapper, mostly dancer,” she’s steadily become known for her dynamic vocal delivery just as much as her captivating performances. Last year she collaborated with Red Velvet's Seulgi, (G)I-dle's Soyeon, and GFRIEND's SinB on the girl crush anthem "Wow Thing,” and ended with “Whatcha Doin’” with Super Junior’s Yesung. Both experiences showed her something new about her skills as a singer. “I found a very new voice from me, and fans say they heard a very different style from the other sounds that I’ve sung,” she says. “I never had a bright, kind of R&B style in my album, so maybe that was different for Super Junior Yesung’s collaboration. And then with ‘Wow Thing,’ I had a little stronger voice in it cause I had a lot of high notes. I never thought that I would go high when I’m in a group.”

Chung Ha says that the next new thing she wants to try out is a romantic ballad, and names Paul Kim, a Korean-American singer popular in South Korea who recently released "Me After You," as someone she’d like to collaborate with. “I’m not a ballad singer but I really want to show more of a ballad side of Chung Ha in 2019. I guess if he’s okay with it, I’m so ready,” she says with a laugh.

And though she’s starting off with a sole track in “Gotta Go,” Chung Ha also says that fans may have something more to look forward to in the form of an upcoming album later in 2019.