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[HERALD INTERVIEW]Lee Min-woo comes back strong with new solo album

A popular teen-idol band member`s solo debut isn`t always successful. In fact, quite often, just the opposite is true.
M, or Lee Min-woo, of Shinhwa, one of the most popular boy bands in the country, also fell into this category two years ago when his solo debut album "Un-Touch-Able" didn`t meet his expectations in terms of album sales. The 26-year-old singer/dancer of the six-man band, however, was wise enough to find out what was wrong with his initial try, which has enabled him to make a comeback as a popular solo artist.
"Being overly confident, I didn`t listen to other people then," Lee confessed during a recent interview with The Korea Herald. "For my new album, I tried to open my ears for advice, and the result is, ironically, my own unique style of music, as people say."
<**1>"IInd Winds," his second solo album, has so far been getting some fantastic responses from pop music fans since its release last month. The album`s first single "Bump!!!" is storming to the top of various charts, jumping up 25 places on the online music portal JukeOn`s singles chart last week. Of the 12 total tracks featured on the album that Lee presents fans after a near 2-year hiatus, he wrote the lyrics for seven songs while composing and arranging three others including upbeat "Bump!!!"
"I listen much to write songs. Once I come up with some fascinating rhythms or melodies, I record them for later reference," said Lee whose favorite musicians include British R&B star Craig David and the now-defunct New Kids on the Block. "The New Kids were popular when I was a sixth grader, but I still enjoy their music."
Lee joined as a guest at Craig David`s show case stage, which was in a club in Samsong-dong, southern Seoul, two weeks ago, and sang a song.
"He is handsome, which is not so important to me, of course. More than that, I like his music and his charismatic stage presence."
Different from the generally mellow first album, the new one is full of powerful moments, but he didn`t forget to add a ballad, an area of his specialty, to the song list. The song "Girlfriend" is expected to gain popularity as the response was great during last month`s showcasing event of his new album, where his female fans shrieked when he sang the song.
Just like Eric and Kim Dong-wan, two other popular Shinhwa members, Lee also finds acting as exciting and rewarding as singing. Currently Lee is showing off a different side of his talents, playing the role of a fun loving college student in the MBC sitcom "Nonstop."
"By acting, I think I learn how to control my emotions better, which is helpful for my singing career as well," Lee continued.
The biggest motivation for him to act on television is, however, to make his parents happy by assuring them that he is doing fine. "They always ask me on the phone when they can see me on television. Now I`m happy to relieve their concerns," said Lee, whose parents are living in his hometown, Jeonju, North Jolla Province.
Whether he likes it or not, K-pop fans enjoy comparing him with Jang Woo-hyuk, former dancer/rapper of the now defunct H.O.T., the once-biggest rival of Shinhwa, as Jang also has recently come back with his first solo album.
"I don`t know. I just hate people trying to estrange me from Jang. Besides Jang is a terrific rapper, while I`m more of a singer."
When asked about his rivals, he refused to name them, but acknowledged that Rain and Seven are among them, as he said that the two, along with him, are good at creating their own styles and music. "Healthy competition is needed even among Shinhwa members, but we`d rather make more efforts than being greedy," Lee said.
With the type of charismatic personna Japanese people find attractive, Lee plans to have a solo concert in Japan later this year, which will be followed by a few other concerts in other Asian countries. "My only wish as a singer is making each of my stage appearances the best possible. I promise I will always do my best for it," Lee said.

By Lee Yong-sung