As former members of the South Korean boy band TVXQ, the trio of Kim JaeJoong, Park YuChun and Kim JunSu are no strangers to pop stardom. Formed in 2003, TVXQ became hitmakers at home and in K-pop-crazy Japan (where it was known as Tohoshinki) and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Following a contractual dispute with its former management company, the threesome formed a new group earlier this year that it christened JYJ after the first initials of their first names. The band's debut album, aptly titled "The Beginning," is out now.
JYJ is thinking big with its debut album, "The Beginning," which features collaborations with Kanye West and songwriter/producer Rodney Jerkins. Show Shop Entertainment released the album Oct. 14 through Warner Music Korea. In the United States, Warner Music is releasing the album digitally through iTunes and Amazon with a CD release planned for late 2010 or early 2011.
ON THE PAGE
"The Beginning" comprises seven tracks and three remixes. Each of the members of JYJ has songwriting credits on the album. Show Shop Entertainment and C-JeS Entertainemnt handles JYJ's publishing, with administration by Warner/Chappell Music Korea.
JYJ had a wish list of producers and artists it wanted to work with, according to Park: West, Jerkins, Neo and Timbaland. With the help of its manager, Baek Chang Ju, CEO of C-JeS Entertainment, and Show Shop Entertainment CEO Hwang Jong Wook, the group was able to connect with West and Jerkins, who agreed to work with JYJ on "The Beginning."
The sessions for the first single, "Ayyy Girl," produced by West, were held at Westlake Recording Studios in Hollywood, while "Empty" and "Be My Girl," produced by Jerkins, were recorded at his 2nd Floor Studios, also in Hollywood. The rest of the tracks were recorded in South Korea.
West wowed JYJ with some a cappella freestyle rapping before the trio began recording its vocals. "We could see why he's so hugely popular," Park says. "It was really a great honor to work with him."
Jerkins also made a big impression on the Korean trio. "When we were making songs together, he treated us like equals," Park says. "We appreciated that so much. Because he worked so hard on the record, he inspired us to work hard."
Jerkins says he was impressed by JYJ's professionalism and "their poise, the way they took their work seriously. I told their team that I'd work with them again."
IN THE STORES
"The Beginning" arrived Oct. 14 in South Korea, followed by the release of a "luxury edition" with extra content on Oct. 18. The expanded version is limited to a run of fewer than 100,000 units, but Warner Music Korea says it received more than 300,000 pre-sale orders for the set. "The overwhelming response to the [limited-edition] CD is a very encouraging start for JYJ and we hope that this album release will also be met with equal enthusiasm," Warner Music Korea managing director P.R. Wang said in a statement.
Warner Asia's Wong adds: "Warner U.S. will release the product digitally through iTunes first this month. It will also be made available through Amazon digitally. There will also be finished product under the Amazon import section. We are in discussion with Warner U.S. to release a U.S. version in the next few months that will include new tracks and mixes exclusive to the market in both physical and digital formats."
ON THE ROAD
JYJ is playing shows in Bangkok, Thailand; Singapore; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Hong Kong, China; and Taipei, Taiwan; in October. The group "also will be touring four major cities in the U.S. in November to support the release in a series of meet-the-fan sessions, plus a few media appearances," Wong says. "Once the U.S. release [plans for the physical album] has been decided, we hope to reach a much bigger market for JYJ, as the market for Asian acts who sing in English is growing rapidly."