ASTRO returns to the Emerging Artists chart this week with big gains on YouTube and Twitter.
Following a busy 2019 that included two album releases and their first-ever U.S. tour, ASTRO is looking to reintroduce themselves with a new EP that looks to transcend their past.
Following the release of the K-pop boy band's Gateway -- that ties in everything from surging pop on standouts "Knock" and "Lights On" to playful hip-hop for "When You Call My Name" -- ASTRO sees gains across the board to mark a return to Billboard's Emerging Artists chart.
At No. 49 this week, ASTRO's re-entry to Emerging Artists can be mostly attributed to their social media presence. Upon the release of Gateway, the sextet gained 75,000 new YouTube subscribers (up 181 percent from the week before), earned 346,000 Twitter reactions (up 78 percent), 376,000 Twitter mentions (up 41 percent), 24,000 new Twitter followers (up 29 percent) and 6,000 new Facebook page followers (up 12 percent), all according to Next Big Sound. The biggest music move ASTRO made was with new single "Knock" logging 312,000 on-demand U.S. streams, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data in its first week available.
According to the guys themselves, they see Gateway as a chance to change things up. ASTRO vocalist MJ explains that "in comparison to our previous albums which had a more 'dreamy and fatal' concept where the songs were musically dark, this time, we brought more of a refreshing mood." Youngest member San-Ha adds, "On stage, we appear refreshing, however the boost of the powerful energy makes a difference. Unlike our previous refreshing performances on stage, you will be able to feel more power" likely referring to the cool colors surrounding
The group's main dancer Moon Bin adds that "the meaning of our new album Gateway is connecting two different spaces and we are reintroducing ourselves as travelers who travel to different time and space."
While coronavirus concerns are high around the world, ASTRO says they took precautions while preparing "We constantly had our health checked up between our busy schedule and we tried to take every precaution we could from our side -- which we did pretty well without any problems," rapper-singer Rocky shares.
While COVID-19 means that ASTRO won't be able to meet with or perform for their fans face-to-face, the band wants to share a hopeful message. "It is sad that we cannot interact with our fans, but health comes first for everyone," says leader JinJin. "Not being able to attend the pre-scheduled fan meeting or performing live on stage [with an audience] is very unfortunate, but I hope everyone in the world will overcome this virus together by being careful...when we have a chance and the situation gets better, we will come meet you as soon as possible. I want to thank each and every one of you for supporting us from so far away."
While they can't meet fans personally at the moment, read on for Eun-Woo, JinJin, Rocky, Moon Bin, MJ and San-Ha's exclusive takes on each song throughout Gateway below.
Moon Bin: When I first listened to the demo version, I was able to picture the song in my head. I knew it would be our title song. Even before we started recording, I could picture us performing with our own voices.
Eun-Woo: When I first listened to song, I liked the liveliness and the energy but, in my personal opinion, I did wish there was more feeling to it. The songwriter took my opinion into consideration and that is how the song "Knock" was created. Everyone was satisfied with the final outcome and I couldn't wait for our fans to hear it too.
San-Ha: At first, I was quite worried when I listened to this song as it was the complete opposite from our previous single "Blue Flame," but as we started recording and rehearsing together it was actually amazing.
Rocky: We also decided to focus on bringing out each member's uniqueness and, so, in order to distinguish the two rappers, each rapper added more of his own color to the lyrics.
2. "When You Call My Name"
Rocky: This is a fun song with lots of clever lyrics and I remember trying hard to create fun verses for the rap section.
MJ: It's a great song to get together and have a little bit of a laugh. It shows the chemistry we have with each of our members.
Eun-Woo: I think this song depicts ASTRO's cute, refreshing and fun-loving side. Even during the recording sessions, I imagined how much fun it would be if we could chant back and forth between ASTRO and [our fanbase] AROHA.
3. "Somebody Like"
Moon Bin: This mixes well with ASTRO since it's funky and rhythmical -- I think it would be a great song to perform on stage. It actually felt really good when we were recording.
Rocky: Since it is a lively song with a very catchy chorus, we gave more emphasis on the rap part in order to create a more natural flow.
San-Ha: The chorus is like an addictive chant and it would be the perfect song to sing along to. When I get a chance, I’d like to try playing the acoustic version with my guitar.
Eun-Woo: This is the perfect song to make you happier -- twice or even three times more than you already are! It's most suitable to listen to while you’re cruising around in your car, feeling joyful or simply having a nice day out; you can really feel yourself getting happier when you listen to this song.
4. "We Still"
Moon Bin : When I first heard this song, it was definitely my favorite. This one is very cool and hopeful -- my top favorite song except for “Knock."
Rocky: With this track in particular, I tried to make my flow more powerful than poetic. while also trying to make it as simple as possible with a melody more comfortable for my ears. I thought that would make the tune more memorable.
San-Ha : I thought it would be great as an ending song for our concert. I can imagine myself making eye contact with each and every one of my fans.
MJ: This is my favorite song. It’s a song that warms you up and heals the mind.
Eun-Woo: I think this song has pretty lyrics. It's good to hear and I think it's probably the first song I’d like to play for AROHA. We needed to sing in the high register during the recordings actually but because of that, I think it’s a song that helped us improve musically.
JinJin: When we think of “We Still”, an image of the universe instantly pops up in my head. While recording I focused on connecting the universe with dreams and my wish to be a star that does not change even if the surroundings change.
5. "12 Hours"
Moon Bin : This song was actually first considered for the previous album [2019's Blue Flame], but I’ve always wanted to record it and so I'm glad that this song was included in this album.
MJ: This is my favorite song on the album. When I listen to it, my heart becomes warm and my soul feels healed.
Eun-Woo: This is our only ballad song [on Gateway], the straightforward and honest lyrics can be relatable to the audience. I think it’s a comforting song.
JinJin: "12 Hours" differs from our other ballad songs, which are mainly about breakups, but these lyrics are sad. I remember getting emotional during the recordings.
Rocky: I channeled my personal life and the world around me while listening to this demo and I realized that everything we are doing is, in a sense, all similar to love. I used this feeling to write the lyrics.
6. "Lights On"
San-Ha: Our leader JinJin wrote and produced this song and it really brings out the feeling of ASTRO. MJ recorded the demo versions and I was so surprised by how good it was.
Eun-Woo: Even before this song was included in our newest album, JinJin would ask about this song. This song is infused with JinJin's emotions and essence -- powerful yet emotional at the same time and I think AROHA will really enjoy it.
Moon Bin: I personally think it would look spectacular if we performed it on stage.
Rocky: Unlike the other verses I wrote for the rap part, I tried to express myself from a different angle as the rhythm of this song was quite unusual and it took some time for the lyrics to come together.
JinJin: "Lights On" has been edited a couple of times. If the draft was simple, I knew I could go in a little more aggressively after receiving the recordings from my group members. While I was working on the song, I tried my best to include all the emotions I felt to my rap verses.